1914: Japan defeats Germany - A military lecture

In 2600 years of history Japan has fought only a single war side by side with allies. In 1914 a combined Japanese / British force stormed the Chinese city Tsingtao (now: Qingdao), then the German Hong Kong. After two and a half months of stubborn resistance on land, at sea and in the air the Germans and their Austrian-Hungarian allies capitulated.

The Japanese army campaign was unusual in that the Japanese army was led by an officer caring for his man, meaning they where well stocked and suffered minimal casualties. This led to enhanced prestige for the army in Japan. The city of Tsingtao became a Japanese concession at the treaty of Versailles.

The Japanese navy was the more active force during the Great War. They were active in pursuing the German South Seas squadron though the Pacific. A large force that was finally bought to a halt by the British during the Falklands Battle. The navy also fought against German commerce raiders in the Indian Ocean and performed escort duties against submarines in the Mediterranean until the end of the war. As a result the Japanese were granted Palau, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands as the South Pacific Mandate at Versailles.


Paradoxically the long defiance coupled with the removal of any further threat of German colonization greatly enhanced the German prestige in the Far East.

When the British discontinued the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1923 the navy lost a lot of prestige in Japan and the army became ascendant. Admiration for the German resistance at Tsingtao and the cordial relations between the Japanese and their German prisoners of war led to closer bonds between Japan and Germany. While the mandates won by the navy remained in Japanese hands until the Second World War, the city of Tsingtao was returned to the Chinese government in 1922, but only after the Japanese - Chinese relations had soured. Thus the Japanese contribution to the Great war resulted in Axis alliance in the 1930's.

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