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Japan-Russia Treaty of Peace, or "Treaty of Portsmouth", September 5, 1905. Diplomatic Record Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan).

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905) — From left to right: The Russians at far side of table are Korostovetz, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen, Plancon and the Japanese at near side of table are Adachi, Ochiai, Komura, Takahira, Satō. The large conference table is today preserved at the Museum Meiji Mura in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

The Treaty of Portsmouth formally ended the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War. It was signed on September 5, 1905[1] after negotiations at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, in the United States.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 was fought between Russia, an international power with one of the largest armies in the world, and Japan, a nation only recently emerged from two-and-a-half centuries of isolation. Research conducted for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty in 2005 explored participants' diaries, local newspapers and government documents to explain the causes of the war, the military conflict on land and sea, President Theodore Roosevelt's back channel diplomacy, and the peace negotiations hosted by the United States Navy and the State of New Hampshire, as the nearby city of Portsmouth acted as host to the diplomats.


Delegates who signed the peace agreement were Sergei Witte and Roman Rosen for Russia, and Komura Jutarō and Takahira Kogorō for Japan. Fyodor Martens and other diplomats from both nations stayed in New Castle, New Hampshire at the Hotel Wentworth (where the armistice was signed), and were ferried across the Piscataqua River for negotiations held on the base located in Kittery, Maine. The General Stores Building (now Building 86) was used for the meetings. Mahogany furniture patterned after the Cabinet Room of the White House was ordered from Washington, D.C.

In accordance with the treaty, both Japan and Russia agreed to evacuate Manchuria and return its sovereignty to China, but Japan leased the Liaodong Peninsula (containing Port Arthur and Talien), and the Russian rail system in southern Manchuria with access to strategic resources. Japan also received the southern half of the Island of Sakhalin from Russia.

The peace conference began when President Theodore Roosevelt invited both countries to conduct direct negotiations at the neutral site of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Due to the efforts of Governor McLane, the State of New Hampshire along with Portsmouth became the host for the first international treaty to be signed in the United States. As the primary representatives of their governments, Serge Witte of Russia and Jutaro Komura of Japan debated and negotiated a peace treaty that resolved the concerns of each nation.[citation needed]


The Russo-Japanese war, which involved not only the two warring countries, but also China, Korea, Europe, and the United States, set the balance of power in the Pacific for the next century. The war and the treaty signaled the emergence of Japan as a world power. Because of the role played by President Theodore Roosevelt, the United States became a significant force in world diplomacy. Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his back channel efforts before and during the peace negotiations, even though he never went to Portsmouth. This international affair settled immediate difficulties in the Far East and created three decades of peace between the two warring nations. Negotiations lasted through August. Prior to the beginning of negotiations, the Japanese allegedly made the Taft-Katsura Agreement with the U.S. in July 1905, which agreed to Japanese control of Korea, in return for American dominance in the Philippines. The Japanese also agreed with the United Kingdom to extend the Anglo-Japanese treaty to cover all of Eastern Asia, and in return the UK also agreed to Japan's control over Korea. Despite Japan's demands for the entirety of Sakhalin and a war indemnity, and Russia's outright refusal, peace was attained through the actions of the participants, including Roosevelt's back-channel communications. Russia, under the guidance of Witte, was unwilling to give concessions in the name of peace and took advantage of Japan's need to end the war and thus Japan's willingness to compromise.[2]

Roosevelt first proposed that a neutral committee propose concessions that Russia would cede to Japan, but after the idea's rejection, Roosevelt convinced Japan to lay down its demand for an indemnity and accept the southern half of Sakhalin rather than the island as a whole. The treaty confirmed Japan's emergence as the pre-eminent power in East Asia, and forced Russia to abandon its expansionist policies there, but it was not well received by the Japanese public.[3]


The treaty was ratified by the Japanese Privy Council on October 4, 1905.[4] Japan gained a great deal from the treaty, but it was not what the Japanese public had been led to expect, since Japan's initial negotiating position had demanded all of Sakhalin and a monetary indemnity as well. The frustration caused the Hibiya riots, and collapsed Katsura Tarō's cabinet on January 7, 1906.


Ratification of the Peace Treaty between Japan and Russia, November 25, 1905.

In 1994, the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum was created by the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire to commemorate the Portsmouth Peace Treaty with the first formal meeting between Japanese and Russian scholars and diplomats in Portsmouth, New Hampshire since the negotiation of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty in 1905. As the Treaty of Portsmouth is considered one of the most powerful symbols of peace in the Northern Pacific region and the most significant, shared peace history for Japan, Russia and the United States, the Forum was designed to explore from the Japanese, Russian and American perspectives, the history of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty and its relevance to current issues involving the Northern Pacific region. The Forum is intended to focus modern scholarship on international problems in the "spirit of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty".



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