Nagasaki incident

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Nagasaki Incident
Date13-15 August 1886
Caused byBeiyang Fleet heading to Nagasaki
Resulted inAnti-Qing sentiments in Japan
Qing sailors
Nagasaki Prefecture Police Department
500 Chinese sailors
Casualties and losses
57 total casualties
More than 21 injured
Nagasaki harbor (1893)

The Nagasaki incident (長崎事件, Nagasaki Jiken), also known as the Nagasaki―Qing Navy Incident (長崎清国水兵事件) was an incident took place on August 13, 1886 (the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty) during the Beiyang Fleet visit to Nagasaki, Japan. Some Chinese sailors violated military discipline when they went ashore for shopping, went to local brothels and drank and made troubles. As a result, they clashed with the Japanese police. A Japanese policeman was stabbed and seriously injured, and a Chinese sailor was slightly injured. In February 1887, the two sides reached an agreement under the mediation of the British and German ministers. Both parties compensated the dead and injured persons of the other party.


On 1 August 1886 (Meiji 19), the Qing dynasty's Beiyang Fleet, consisting of four warships, the Dingyuan, the Zhenyuan, the Jiyuan, and Weiyuan, entered the Nagasaki harbor port during a visit to various major Asian harbours.[1] At that time, Qing China was militarily superior to Meiji Japan.[2] The Dingyuan had more tonnage than the heaviest Japanese cruisers in service, due to Japan's policy of following the Jeune École naval strategy, which emphasized small rapid assault craft. In addition, Japan had recently suffered setbacks in the Gapsin Coup in which around 400 Japanese troops stationed in Joseon Korea were defeated by nearly 2,000 Qing-Joseon soldiers.

On August 13, around 500 Chinese troops took shore leave. Many went to the red-light district leading an altercations with locals with the resulting property damages blamed on the soldiers. Locals also claimed that drunken Chinese soldiers went around the city pursuing women and children much to public outrage.[citation needed] The Nagasaki Prefecture Police Department attempted to restore order with the help of a large number of local civilians. The policemen engaged in several hand-to-hand battles with the Chinese sailors who used swords purchased from stores; the melees resulted in at least 80 deaths.[3] A sense of unrest subsequently pervaded across the city.

On August 14, at a conference between the governor of Nagasaki prefecture Kusaka Yoshio and the Qing consulate Xuan Cai, the Qing navy prohibited its soldiers from coming ashore as a group for one day and agreed to have their troops supervised by officers when on leave.

On August 15, at around 1:00 PM, following the cessation of the agreement, about 300 Qing troops went ashore; some were armed with clubs. A group of Qing sailors attacked three police officers, resulting in one death.[4] A driver of a rickshaw (jinrikisha) witnessed the scuffle and, in indignation, tried to punch one of the Qing troops. In response, the Qing sailors rioted. The Nagasaki police responded and again fought with the Qing sailors, resulting in more casualties. On the Qing side, 4 were killed (1 officer and 3 soldiers) and 53 were injured (3 officers and 50 soldiers). On the Japanese side, 2 constables were killed with 3 police officers injured along with 16 more. Several tens of Japanese civilians were also injured.

Effects of the incident[edit]

Combined with the Gapsin Coup of 1884 (Meiji 17), the incident stirred up anti-Qing sentiment and was regarded as a distant cause to the First Sino-Japanese War. Also, Toyoma Mitsuru created the political association called the Genyosha, which was the first turning away from civil rights theory to sovereign rights theory.

The Qing did not apologize to Japan for the incident and behaved with confidence in the superiority of their navy. At that time, the Qing possessed the newest model of navy battleships: the Dingyuan. It was thought that the Japanese navy could not match this ship at this time as the German-built Dingyuan possessed more tonnage than the French-built Japanese cruisers that were in service. (The Dingyuan was eventually scuttled after the Battle of Weihaiwei in 1895.) The Qing's confidence was bolstered by the events of the Gapsin Coup where a small Japanese contingent was defeated by a much larger Qing-Joseon garrison.[citation needed]

The Qing successfully made demands to the Japanese government wherein Japanese police would not prohibit the wielding of swords by visiting Qing troops; the Japanese were also forced to pay a large sum for reparations.[5] These concessions however stoked anti-Qing sentiment in Japan, presaging further confrontation.

The incident is notable for a significant consequence: the cracking of the Qing intelligence code. A Japanese man named Wu Oogoro picked up a Beiyang Navy sailor's dictionary which was marked with 0-9 between the Chinese characters (Kanji). The Japanese intelligence department subsequently analysed these characters and figures and determined that it was a guide to decipher Qing codes. In order to completely crack the code, Japanese Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu deliberately provided a writing in Chinese characters of moderate length to the Qing ambassador Wang Feng Cao. The next day the Japan Telecom legation successfully intercepted the telegram sent by the embassy to Zongli Yamen. Sato Yoshimaro, a bureaucrat in the telecom legation, used this kanji text with known content to crack the Qing code. This provided Japan with an advantage in the First Sino-Japanese war.[6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ JACAR(アジア歴史資料センター)Ref.B07090388600、帝国造船所二於テ外国船艦修理方請願雑件第3巻「清国軍艦長崎ニ来航修繕スル様李鴻章ヘ勧告ノ儀ニ付在天津領事ヨリ申出ノ件」(外務省外交史料館)。事件の翌年、1887 8月、波多賀承五郎 天津 領事 が 井上馨 外務大臣に問い合わせた「機密第六号」のなかにつぎの文言がある。「先年修繕ノ為メ長崎ニ軍艦ヲ発遣シタルニ不図モ意外ノ葛藤ヲ生シタルニ付再ヒ長崎ニ軍艦ヲ派スルコトハ支那官吏ノ決シテ為サザル所ニ有之」。
  3. ^ 『伊藤博文 文書 第34巻 秘書類纂 長崎港清艦水兵喧闘事件』所収、明治19年8月15日付・ 司法大臣 山田顕義 宛長崎 控訴院 検事長 林誠一発「長崎事件第三報」(53~58頁)のうち、55頁に「携フ所ノ日本刀(此刀ハ古道具屋ヨリ買取所持シ居タルモノナラン)」とある。
  4. ^ Grounds of Judgment: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Power in Nineteenth Century P135
  5. ^ 岡崎久彦「明治の外交力 陸奥宗光の蹇蹇録に学ぶ」海竜社、2011年
  6. ^ Qing Dynasty Before the fight prostitution in Japan leaked telegram password (Figure) Archived July 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "马关议和清政府密电问题考证补" (in Chinese). Retrieved 27 February 2015.