The Otsu incident: Japan's hidden history of the attempted assassination of future Emperor Nicholas II of Russia in the town of Otsu, Japan, May 11, 1891 and its implication for historical analysis

Peter Yong-Shik Shin, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

A Japanese policeman tried to assassinate Russian Crown Prince Nicholas during his visit to Japan. Despite its international importance, however, almost none of the studies done in Japan has yet considered this incident from the standpoint of international politics. The previous studies in fact pay little attention to the problem of the incident itself, that is, its cause, the factors behind it, or its nature. Instead they concentrate on legal matters brought up immediately after the happening such as the treatment of the crime committed. This study, however, suggests that this case was not simply an unexpected happening. Rather it was a political incident in which the Japanese government of the time was deeply involved. For this reason, it was impossible for Japanese scholars before the World War II to make a reinvestigation, and in the postwar period it has been ignored. This situation has made it difficult to obtain the key documents necessary for research. Nevertheless, contemporary documents are available, together with memoirs as well as biographies of important leaders of the time, and especially contemporary newspapers have been of a great help, and usefully exploited in the research presented herewith. As initially indicated, the case was deeply involved in the international politics at the time. Therefore, special attention has been paid to the far-reaching change of structure that was developing in the relationship of the European Powers at the time, and also the impact on Japan's political process. It is expected that this study will provide a better picture and a clearer explanation of the diplomatic background of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894, the so-called Triple Intervention, and even the Russo-Japanese War. Based on contemporary accounts and historiographical Japanese sources, it is hoped that this study will supply additional information to those historians unable to use Japanese sources. The dissertation also suggests an interpretation of the incident as rooted in an understanding of Japanese culture.

Subject Area

International law|International relations|History|Law|European history

Recommended Citation

Shin, Peter Yong-Shik, "The Otsu incident: Japan's hidden history of the attempted assassination of future Emperor Nicholas II of Russia in the town of Otsu, Japan, May 11, 1891 and its implication for historical analysis" (1989). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8922607.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8922607

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