Great Sea Fights: The Battle of Tsushima, 1905 Part 3 – The Japanese Perspective

May 2021

The final instalment of our 3-part special on the Battle of Tsushima explores the Japanese perspective of the battle including a consideration of the extraordinary growth of the Imperial Japanese Navy both before and after Tsushima. Dr Sam Willis speaks with Kunika Kakuta. Kunika is a final year PhD student in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London and specialises in the relationship between politics and the development of seapower.

The Battle of Tsushima was the decisive naval action between Japan and Russia that effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and one of the most important naval battles in history. It was the first in which radio played a major part; the action that demonstrated the power of the all-big-gun battleship, leading to HMS Dreadnought of 1906 and the Anglo-German dreadnought race; the first time a modern battleship was sunk by guns, and largely fought at previously unimaginable ranges of up to 12,000 metres (eight miles); the first, and last, decisive steel battleship action (the Russians lost eight battleships and more than 5,000 men while the Japanese lost only three torpedo boats and 116 men); the first modern defeat of a great European power by an Asian nation; and arguably the battle that made both the First World War more likely and another great fleet action less likely.

To catch up on the rest of the series, listen to Part 1, a description of the events, and Part 2, the Russian perspective.