From the Monitor archives: Japan enters World War I
One hundred years ago today, the Japanese Empire declared war on Germany, turning the previously Europe-centric conflict into a truly 'World War.'
These articles originally ran in The Christian Science Monitor on Aug. 24, 1914. The Japanese Empire had been an ally of Britain since 1902, and with the start of World War I, was eying Germany's holdings in what is now Shandong Province, China. On Aug. 14, 1914, Japan sent Germany an ultimatum which went ignored. On Aug. 23, Japan officially declared war on Germany, turning the previously Europe-centric conflict into a truly "World War."
Please note that the article uses several outdated spellings and names for cities and regions. Modern names and spellings have been inserted in brackets where applicable. Also, the term "Mikado" is an outdated reference to the Japanese emperor.
JAPAN DECLARES WAR UPON THE GERMAN EMPIRE
Formal Proclamation of Mikado Says Peace of the Far East Is Threatened by Attitude of Kaiser at Kiao-Chau in China
Special Cable to the Monitor from Its European Bureau
TOKIO, Sunday—The Japanese government having received no reply to their ultimatum, declared war on Germany. The Emperor’s proclamation declares that the action of Germany has compelled Great Britain to declare war; that Germany at Kiao-Chau [Jiaozhou, China] is preparing warlike operations and is threatening British and Japanese commerce with her vessels. In these circumstances, the peace of the far east being threatened, Japan, after frank explanation with Great Britain, offered certain advice to the German government. No answer having been received to this communication, a state of war has been declared.
JAPAN ENTERS WAR DIVIDING THE CONFLICT INTO FIVE SECTIONS
Mikado’s Fleets Convoy Troops to Kiao-Chau While Strategical Moves Continue in Belgium, Prussia, Lorraine and Servian Border
RESULTS ARE SPECULATED UPON
Special Cable to the Monitor from its European Bureau
LONDON, Monday, 9 a. m.—The strategical position has become tolerably clear up to a certain point. It is therefore possible to describe the situation in the various theaters of war.
In the far east the Japanese fleet is convoying troops on transports to Kiao-Chau. That town lies at the back of the bay of the same name, in the province of Shantung [Shandong, China]. The port at the mouth of the bay is Tsingtao [Qingdao, China], from which the railway runs to the town and thence northward to Tientsin [Tianjin, China] and Peking [Beijing].
The Germans are understood to have a force of some 5000 men in the concession. These, of course, will be absolutely inadequate to meet the Japanese attack. The German ships have probably left port in an attempt to escape westward, but the Austrians, recognizing the hopelessness of the position, have given orders that the cruiser Kaiserin Elisabeth is to be disarmed, and that her crew is to proceed to Tientsin.
Russians in Prussia
In the northeastern theater of war in Europe the Russians have entered East Prussia in the direction of the Gumbinnen [now Gusev, Russia] railway junction 10 miles across the frontier. Here on Thursday and Friday last they routed three German army corps in the neighborhood of Lyck [now Ełk, Poland] and pressing forward have occupied Soldau [now Działdowo, Poland], an important junction on the railway to Dantzic [Gdańsk].
In the southeastern theater the Austrians seem to have achieved nothing against the Russians but to have suffered severely at the hands of Servia [Serbia], whose troops in so far the biggest battle of the war have severely defeated the Austrians upon the Drima.
It is of course in the western theater that the great interest of the moment lies. In Alsace-Lorraine there have been no engagements in force, but in the fighting which has taken place there the French have slowly improved their positions and have cleared the immensely difficult Vosges country which they now hold in force. They have also pushed forward to Muelhausen [Mulhouse] and in this direction have driven the Germans back upon the Rhine.
Contest in Northeast
It is recognized that the real struggle will, however, take place in the northeast. The German general staff committed itself in its great effort here at the beginning of the war without counting on the resistance which has been offered by Belgium. As a result of this it finds itself on the twenty-fourth day still entangled in Belgium and only just in a position to strike at the French line with the heads of its columns.
There is no question that the magnificent Belgian defense of Liege and the brilliant rearguard actions fought by them at Tirlemont [Tienen] and Diest have terribly increased the German difficulties.
With the great unsubdued fortress of Antwerp protected by the Belgian field army on their right flank and with the other great fortresses of Namur also untouched upon their left flank they are pushing forward to attack a deliberately prepared Anglo-French line, which stretches roughly from the great fortress of Lille by way of the second fortress of Valenciennes to Maubeuge on the Sambre and so through Charleroi to Namur.
Hope to Break Line
It may be said that the Germans have staked the fate of the northern army on the ability to break this line. If they fail they will be compelled to retreat between Antwerp and Namur, which are only some 55 miles apart. It is tolerably obvious therefore that failure would be likely to spell something in the nature of disaster. The weight of the German army corps is unknown as is the real line of defense taken up by the allies.
The fate of Liege is still unknown. Tho Germans claim to have taken it, and they admittedly have occupied the town. If, however, the forts are still held, as is declared by the French, then retreat, if necessary, between Antwerp and Namur will be made doubly difficult. The Belgian embassy is unable to confirm officially the story of levying of exactions on Brussels and Liege. The accusation is well vouched for, but the Monitor European bureau hesitates, in the absence of official information, to attribute such action to the German government.