Japanese declaration of war against China, 1 August 1894
We, by the grace of Heaven, Emperor of Japan, seated on a Throne occupied by the same dynasty from time immemorial, do hereby make proclamation to all our loyal and brave subjects, as follows:
We hereby declare war against China, and we command each and all of our competent authorities, in obedience to our wish and with a view to the attainment of the national aim, to carry on hostilities by sea and by land against China, with all the means at their disposal, consistently with the Law of Nations.
During the past three decades of our reign our constant aim has been to further the peaceful progress of the country in civilisation; and, being sensible of the evils inseparable from complications with foreign states, it has always been our pleasure to instruct our Minister of State to labour for the promotion of friendly relations with our Treaty Powers. We are gratified to know that the relations of our Empire with those Powers have yearly increased in good will and in friendship. Under the circumstances, we were unprepared for such a conspicuous want of amity and of good faith as has been manifested by China in her conduct towards this country in connexion with the Korean affair.
Korea is an independent state. She was first introduced into the family of nations by the advice and guidance of Japan. It has, however, been China's habit to designate Korea as her dependency, and both openly and secretly to interfere with her domestic affairs. At the time of the recent insurrection in Korea, China despatched troops thither, alleging that her purpose was to afford a succour to her dependent state. We, in virtue of the treaty concluded with Korea in 1882, and looking to possible emergencies, caused a military force to be sent to that country.
Wishing to procure for Korea freedom from the calamity of perpetual disturbance, and thereby to maintain the peace of the East in general, Japan invited China's cooperation for the accomplishment of the object. But China, advancing various pretexts, declined Japan's proposal. Thereupon Japan advised Korea to reform her administration so that order and tranquillity might be preserved at home, and so that the country might be able to discharge the responsibilities and duties of an independent state abroad. Korea has already consented to undertake the task. But China has secretly and insidiously endeavoured to circumvent and to thwart Japan's purpose. She has further procrastinated and endeavoured to make warlike preparations both on land and at sea.
When those preparations were completed she not only sent large reinforcements to Korea, with a view to the forcible attainment of her ambitious designs, but even carried her arbitrariness and insolence to the extent of opening fire upon our ships in Korean waters. China's plain object is to make it uncertain where the responsibility resides of preserving peace and order in Korea, and not only to weaken the position of that state in the family of nations - a position obtained for Korea through Japan's efforts - but also to obscure the significance of the treaties recognising and confirming that position. Such conduct on the part of China is not only a direct injury to the rights and interests of this Empire, but also a menace to the permanent peace and tranquillity of the Orient. Judging from her actions, it must be concluded that China from the beginning has been bent upon sacrificing peace to the attainment of her sinister object. In this situation, ardent as our wish is to promote the prestige of the country abroad by strictly peaceful methods, we find it impossible to avoid a formal declaration of war against China. It is our earnest wish that, by the loyalty and valour of our faithful subjects, peace may soon be permanently restored and the glory of the Empire be augmented and completed.
Given this 1st day of the eighth month of the 27th year of Meiji...