Japanese Historian Describes 1894 Japan Army Raid on Korean Royal Palace As Premeditated Prelude to Sino-Japan War

People’s Korea, 17 December 1997

A Japanese savant described the 1894 occupation of the Korean Royal Palace in Seoul by the Japanese Imperial troops as a premeditated operation. A top authority on modern Korean-Japanese relation, Prof. Nakatsuka Akira at Nara Women University came out with a well-documented study on the raid.

The book, entitled Correcting the Fraud in History, was published by Kobunken Publishing. Tel: 03-3295-3415. (The book is written in Japanese)

The incident paved the way for a Sino-Japanese War, which was Japan’s first step to the full-scale invasion of Korea.

His study was based on records titled Draft of Sino-Japanese War, (compiled in Sato Novel) found in 1994 at the Fukushima Prefectural Library.

The records were significant in that it overthrew the prevailing view on the Sino-Japan War that Japan fought the war for Korea’s independence from China, said Nakatsuka.

The then Japanese government and the military authorities officially announced that the raid had been triggered by an accidental firing of a Korean royal palace guard at Japanese troops. They explained that Japanese army could not but fire back and enter the palace as the clash grew more intensified. News reports and wartime documents at that time presented a virtually similar account of the incident.

The documents provided the Nara professor with a critical study to challenge the Imperial Army version of the occupation of the Korean royal palace for the first time in a century.

In the middle of the 19th century, Japan which had to invade Korea as its state policy so as to bring prosperity to the country and add luster to the glory of the Japanese Emperor.

In 1894 when the Kabo farmer’s civil war erupted, they sent a great number of soldiers to the neighboring country under the pretext of protecting Japanese nationals in Korea. The deployment was aimed at seizing an opportunity to interfere with the internal affairs of the country and checking the Chinese Ching Dynasty’s influence there. Despite repeated official protests by the feudal government of the Li dynasty the Japanese troops refused to withdraw from Korea and went so far as to assault the King’s Palace and confine the king Kojong.

The Fukushima Library records found horizontally differed the official version, revealing that the Japanese raid on the royal palace was not an accident, but a conspiracy plotted in line with Japan’s war strategy against Ching.

It had been widely accepted that the Sino-Japan War broke out on July 25, 1894 as fleets of Japanese and Chinese opened fire at each other off Inchon, the West Sea of Korea. The records found in 1994, however, said that the Japanese Imperial troops started the war two days before the first direct engagement between Japan and Ching.

The 42 volumes of Draft of Sino-Japan War clearly told that the raid on royal palace was an armed operation to occupy the royal palace and to put Capital City Seoul under their control, as a first step of the coming war.

Author Nakatsuka explained why the truth was kept covered:

Japanese troop’s ‘official reason’ for stationing in Korea was protection of Japanese nationals in Korea from farmer riots flaring up in the political upheaval of the Ri dynasty. And the other reason was to help realize Korea’s independence from China. But they put the capital under their control, raid the royal palace to capture the king and to create a puppet government. These acti ons were a military operation. The brutal act was internationally unjustifiable even in the era of Imperialism.

The brutal truth was deliberately expunged from official history, and Japanese people believed that Sino-Japan War was a righteous war.

The occupation of the royal palace stirred anti-Japan sentiments in minds of all sections of Korean people -- ordinary people, government officials and royal families.

The then Japanese government and military authorities, who were totally blind to Koreans’ feelings, ruthlessly oppressed the anti-Japan movement of Korean people by using military force.

As a result of the then Japanese authorities’ lack of understanding of the feelings of aggressed nation, Japanese people came to have a perverted outlook to the world, said Nakatsuka.

The records were originally compiled by the Japanese General Staff Office in 1899-1900. When and how the important documents found their way into the hands of a private publisher was unknown.

A part of the records was entitled Intimidating Action Against the Korean Royal Palace.

On base of the records, the book described the aim of engineering the incident as follows: