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Vladivostok was operational only during the summer, whereas Port Arthur, a naval base in Liaodong Province leased to Russia by China, was operational all year.
Since the end of the First Sino–Japanese War in 1895, Japan feared Russian encroachment on its plans to create a sphere of influence in Korea and Manchuria.
In 1884, Japan had encouraged a coup in Korea by a pro-Japanese reformist faction, which led to the conservative government calling upon China for help, leading to a clash between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in Seoul.
The official date for Christmas celebrations in Russia is the 6th of January.
That is because the Russian Orthodox church decided to stay with the Julian calendar, while much of the rest of the world switched to the newer Gregorian.
The British Japanologist Richard Storry wrote the biggest misconception about Japan in the West was that the Japanese people were the "docile" instruments of the elite, when in fact much of the pressure for Japan's wars from 1894 to 1941 came from below, as ordinary people demanded a "tough" foreign policy, and tended to engage in riots and assassination when foreign policy was perceived to be pusillanimous.
Though the Meiji oligarchy refused to allow democracy, they did seek to appropriate some of the demands of the "people's rights" movement by allowing an elected Diet in 1890 (with limited powers and an equally limited franchise) and by pursuing an aggressive foreign policy towards Korea.
After negotiations broke down in 1904, the Japanese Navy opened hostilities by attacking the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China, in a surprise attack.
Russia suffered multiple defeats by Japan, but Tsar Nicholas II was convinced that Russia would win and chose to remain engaged in the war; at first, to await the outcomes of certain naval battles, and later to preserve the dignity of Russia by averting a "humiliating peace".Scholars continue to debate the historical significance of the war.After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government endeavored to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and ways of warfare.By the late 19th century, Japan had transformed itself into a modernized industrial state.The Japanese wanted to be recognized as equal with the Western powers.Russia refused and demanded Korea north of the 39th parallel to be a neutral buffer zone between Russia and Japan.