The first Sino-Japanese war was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Qing Empire. The primary objective of the war was influence over Korea. Fought between 1894 and 1895, the war ended in a decisive Japanese victory.
The Qing Dynasty of China and the Meiji Japanese Empire fought for control of the Joseon-era Korea. As a result of the war, the Empire of Japan added the Korean peninsula to its empire, as well as gaining Formosa (Taiwan), Penghu Island and Liaodong Peninsula. Both sides suffered heavy losses. An approximate 35,000 Chinese soldiers were killed or wounded, and a loss of 5,000 personnel for the Japanese. The Fist Sino-Japanese war was the catalyst to major changes in the region, and its effects reverberated across the world.
Once ultra-traditional and isolated, Tokugawa Japan was forced open by US Commodore Matthew Perry. This resulted in the end of shogun power in Japan, and the subsequent 1868 Meiji Restoration. This resulted in the industrialization, modernization and militarization of Japan as a result.
The Qing dynasty of China on the other hand failed to modernize its industry and military. As consequence, the country lost two opium wars to western powers. Although the Chinese traditionally held control over the region – including nearby countries like Korea and Vietnam – their losses in this period showed their weaknesses to the rest of the western world. The British and the French wing in the region allowed Japan to realize the enormity of opportunity in the region, and they decided to exploit the opportunity.
After a few decades eyeing power of Korea, Japan and China began hostilities towards each other at the Battle of Asan on July 28th, 1894. Much of this war was fight at sea, where the Japanese held a strategic advantage over the older Chinese military. It was rumored that the Chinese empress thwarted funds from the Chinese navy in order to build herself a summer palace in Beijing.
The Takeover of Korea
The Japanese quickly overtook Pyongyang in September, leaving about 2,000 Chinese dead and 4,000 injured or missing. Japan reported only 568 dead injured or missing. After the loss of Pyongyang to Japanese Imperial forces, China decided to withdraw from Korea and fortify their own borders. In October of 1894, the Japanese built a bridge across the Yalu river and marched in to Manchuria.
By February, the Japanese had won Yingkou, Manchuria and the Pescadores Islands. By April, the Chinese decided they would sue Japan for a peaceful end to their invasions.