Japan Declares War on Austria-Hungary
Japan Declares War
A Time-limit of nine days had been fixed by Japan for Germany's acceptance of her ultimatum, but Germany scornfully ignored
the mandate. Accordingly, on the day appointed, August 23, 1914, Japan formally declared war against Germany. There were many Germans living in Japan, but none of these were molested, all being permitted to pursue their regular vocations. In Germany, however, a different policy was adopted. Every Japanese subject in Germany was arrested and all the funds deposited by the Japanese Government in the Deutsche Bank of Berlin were seized. The German Ambassador remained at the Japanese capi- tol until August 30.
Bombardment of Tsing-tau Forts
ON August 25, 1914, the day before the formal Declaration of War, a squadron of twelve Japanese battleships, with a fleet of transports carrying 22,980 soldiers and 142 heavy siege guns, headed for Tsing-tau. The fleet was in command of Vice-Admiral Hiko- nojo Kamimura, while the land forces were commanded by Gen. Kamio Mitsuomi, Maj. Gen. B. Horiuchi and Maj. Gen. Hanzo Yamanashi.
Tsing-tau and its environs formed a large entrenched camp protected by 23 forts of concrete and steel, garrisoned by 5000 German marines. The first line of defence, on the seaside, consisted of five forts connected by trenches and protected by barbed wire entanglements.
The second principal defences were the heights known as Mt. Moltke, Mt. Bismarck, and Mt. Iltis, commanding the plain. The outer line of defence, eight miles long, was along the Litsum River to the sea, at a distance of some ten miles from the city.
The harbor mouth had been sewn with mines, and the shores for twenty miles were guarded by batteries. In the harbor was an Austrian warship, the Kaiserin Elizabeth, and four gunboats. Three airplanes assisted in the defence. The command of the German forces was vested in the Governor-General of Kiau-chau, Admiral Meyer-Wai deck.
Proposals were under way to remove the Austrian warship to a place of safety, but at the last moment Austria elected to assist Germany against Japan, so it was necessary for Japan to declare war against Austria.
The plan of the land attack called for a landing at the northern base of the peninsula, from which the troops were to advance inland, cutting the railroad and extending their line across the base of the narrow tongue of land. After cutting off the city from the north, the force was to move toward the forts and commence the siege.
The bombardment of the Tsing-tau forts opened on August 26, 1914. On the following day the Japanese marines seized several small islands in Kiau-chau Bay, sweeping the harbor of mines. At the same time a squadron of Japanese airplanes dropped bombs upon the wireless station, the electric power station, the railway terminal, and the boats in the harbor.
One hundred Japanese women divers had previously volunteered to release the mines from their moorings, but their offer was declined, as the Japanese law prohibits the employment of women in warlike operations.
Chinese Protest as Japanese Land Troops
On September 2, 10,000 Japanese troops were landed at Lungchow, thereby isolating the fortress from the mainland. The Chinese Government at once protested against this invasion of Chinese soil. To this objection the Japanese replied that military necessity justified the act, but that no permanent occupancy was intended. The advance was halted for a fortnight by heavy rains. Then, on September 12, the railway station at Kiau- chau was occupied.
Six days later the Japanese seized the railway which penetrates the peninsula, and again China protested. This time Japan insisted that the seizm'e was justifiable, since the railroad was owned by Germany.
The river now being in flood, land operations were still further delayed. Meanwhile, the Japanese airmen had not been idle. Bombs were dropped daily upon the city and the boats in the harbor, causing much damage. Circulars, calling upon the defenders to surrender, were also scattered over the town.
New Zealand occupied German Samoa (later Western Samoa) on 30 August. On 11 September the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force landed on the island of Neu Pommern (later New Britain), which formed part of German New Guinea. Japan seized Germany's Micronesian colonies and, after the Battle of Tsingtao, the German coaling port of Qingdao in the Chinese Shandong peninsula. Within a few months, the Allied forces had seized all the German territories in the Pacific; only isolated commerce raiders and a few holdouts in New Guinea remained.