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Japan 1898-1900 as Portrayed in Punch


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Jun, Bum Sun
Term Paper, AP European History Class, May 2008



Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Background
II.1 Japan
II.2 China
II.2.1 Boxer Rebellion
II.2.2 Eight Nation Alliance
III. Description in Punch
III.1 Before the Boxer Rebellion
III.2 During the Boxer Rebellion
IV. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography



I. Introduction
            Punch is a British weekly magazine that depicted both domestic and international affairs with cartoons. This paper will analyze how the Punch magazine portrayed Japan from 1898 to 1900. There are three images describing Japan in total, all of them about its relationship with China.
            The paper will be divided into two sections. The first part will be the background situation of China and Japan , while the second part will be the analysis of the Punch cartoons depicting Japan.

II. Background

II.1 Japan
            After the Meiji Restoration in the later 19th century, Japan rapidly industrialized itself. By the end of the century, it emerged as one of the economic and military power of the world. In order to join among the European Powers, Japan planned to colonize its neighboring nations: Korea and China.

II.2 China
            China during 1898 to 1900 is well portrayed in the movie "55 Days in Peking." The movie is set in 1900, when the European superpowers were having a struggle against the Boxers for supremacy in China.

II.2.1 Boxer Rebellion
            Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) is a movement in which the members of the Society of Right and Harmonious Fist massacred foreigners and Chinese Christians. Their slogan was to destroy all "foreign evils" and restore the Qing dynasty. They believed in a superstition that the practice of martial arts will transform their body into bulletproof, hence the name "Boxers."
In 1989, numbers of European missionaries were murdered and in June 1900, Japanese and German diplomats were also murdered by the Boxers. Empress Dowager Cixi did not suppress the rebellion and rather declared a war against the foreign nations in June 21th, 1900.

II.2.2 Eight Nation Alliance
            In the last scene of the movie ¡°55 Days in Peking¡±, the boxers are driven off by the reinforcement of the army from 8 different nations. In August 1900, the Eight-Nation Alliance including Japan, U.S., Germany, Russia, France, Italy, and Austria-Hungary marched into Peking.
            What is noteworthy in the Alliance is the Japanese sent the greater number of troop than any other members of the Alliance.

Forces of the Eight-Nation Alliance
Country Troop Strength
Japan 20,300
Russia 12,400
United Kingdom 10,000
France 3,130
United States 3,125
Germany 300
Austria-Hungary
Italy


            Although the superficial reason for the intervention of Eight-Nation Alliance was to protect their civilians and diplomats in China, their real cause was something else. Especially, Japan thought of this as the chance to take a step forward to colonize China.

III. Descriprion in Punch

III.1 Before the Boxer Rebellion

Fig. 1 : Punch Vol.117 p.71 August 16 1899

            The cartoon is from August 16th, 1989 which is before the Boxer Rebellion. It shows Japan's attempt to stretch its influence over China. Punch sarcastically depicted it as though the Chinese lady is being charmed by the Japanese man. The subscription below says: Russian Bear (jealously). "Look here, I say! If there¡¯s any hugging to be done, I'll do it. Russia, also seeking supremacy over China, is being cautious of the Japanese plan. The conflict between Japan and Russia continues until the Japanese victory in the Russo-Japanese War. In this cartoon, Punch is criticizing two nation¡¯s desire to gain control over China.

III.2 During the Boxer Rebellion

Fig. 2 : Punch Vol.119 p.11 July 4 1900

            The cartoon is from July 4th, 1900 which is more than a week after the Empress Dowager Cixi declared war against the Eight-Nation Alliance. It depicts a gathering of the Powers in which Japan is making a speech to the other nations. Punch is expressing the situation as though the Powers are going to hunt down the dragon which represents China. The text below reads : Japan (addressing the Powers). "Delighted to join you, gentlemen; but permit me to remark that if some of you hadn't interfered when I had him down, It would have saved all this trouble!" Japan is scolding the powers that their intervention made the situation worse. In this cartoon, Punch is probably being sarcastic on Japan¡¯s will to take over China by itself without European intervention.

Fig. 3 : Punch Vol.119 p.47 July 18 1900

            This cartoon is from July 18th, 1900 which is about half a month before the Eight-Nation Alliance¡¯s march into Peking. It shows a samurai leading western knights "to Pekin". This symbolizes Japan's leading role in the Alliance. As stated in Chart 1, Japan was the most ardent member to suppress the Boxers, which sent the biggest number of soldiers . While the face of the samurai seems hurried and nervous, the western knights that symbolize western nations seem quiet uninterested. Punch is again, being sarcastic about Japan's eager attempt to subjugate China.

IV. Conclusion
            Punch makes fun of Japan¡¯s desire to rule China during 1898 to 1900. Since Britain was one of the members of the Alliance which also sought for some gain in China, it had to be sarcastic on Japan¡¯s lust for China.
            The Boxer Rebellion was suppressed and the Empress fled from Peking. The Qing dynasty was forced to sign the "Boxer Protocol" in 1901. Since then, the Chinese government which failed to protect the nation from foreign power lost its support and ceased to exist in 1912. Japan did secure its position in China over other Powers after winning the Russo-Japanese War, Japan eventually ruled much of China until its defeat in World War II.


Bibliography

Primary Sources
Punch Cartoon Library, in an email dated June 2nd 2008, was so generous to permit the usage of Punch cartoons in students' papers as this one. Punch Cartoon Library does offer full-size decorative prints of individual cartoons for sale.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol.117 p.71 August 16 1899 (figure 1)
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol.119 p.11 July 4 1900 (figure 2)
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol.119 p.47 July 18 1900 (figure 3)

Secondary Sources
Note : websites quoted below were visited in May 2008.
1.      Article "Boxer Rebellion", from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/boxer_rebellion
2.      Article ¡°Eight-Nation Alliance¡±, from Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-Nation_Alliance
3.      "The Boxer Rebellion", Ch¡¯ing China, from World Civilizations by Richard Hooker, http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CHING/BOXER.HTM
4.      "The Boxer Rebellion, 1900¡± from Military History Encyclopedia on the Web, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/wars_boxer.html


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