Most historians agree that the Russo-Japanese War was not solely caused by Tsar Nicholas II, but instead was a combination of numerous factors present in the late 19th and early 20th century. During this time, Japan was in the process of rapidly modernizing due to the 1868 Meiji Restoration, leading to Japan wishing to hold the same reputation as Western nations. Just before the start of this war, Japan formed an alliance with Britain in 1902, signifying the belief in Britain that Japan would become the dominant power of Asia. The Japanese citizens believed that they had a duty to conquer Korea, perceived as an inferior civilization, in order to avoid the Koreans being taken advantage of by the West. To Nicholas II, the early 20th century represented a time of low Russian patriotism and support, and he wished to lead Russia to become a more prosperous country. Britain was the dominant world power, but both Russia and Germany desired to hold this role.As the Tsar, Nicholas II aggressively pursued the view that Russia must expand into the Orient, and seemed relentless in his ambition to accomplish this. However, he did not believe that the Japanese was a major contender for this territory, and he looked to remain at peace with Japan. When Japan offered Manchuria to Russia so that the Japanese could have Korea, Nicholas II quickly rejected this as he did not want to contend with Japan. Paradoxically, he believed that peace with Japan meant minimal communication despite the Japanese efforts of diplomacy, which clearly aggravated the Japanese. This can best be seen by Komura, the Japanese minister of foreign affairs, sending an aggressive telegram to the minister of Russia in which he complained that negotiations had been going on for “no less than four months … and had not yet reached a stage where the final issue can with certainty be predicted.” Furthemore, the Tsar’s construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad was another clear message to the Japanese that he did not realize he was sending: Russia has claims in the Orient and is attempting to expand upon these claims. After the 1900 Boxer Rebellion was put down, Russia left troops in Port Arthur: a key naval port in Manchuria. When Japan requested the removal of these troops, the Tsar promised they would be removed by mid-1903 but instead by this deadline he had actually strengthened his position at the port. The slow and ineffective negotiations by the Tsar combined with his advances in the Liaodong Peninsula forced Japan to invade if they wished to avoid becoming another Asian nation that was being taken advantage of by a Western power.
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