Twenty-one Demands (1915), instrument by which Japan secured temporary hegemony over China. Japan used its declaration of war against Germany (Aug., 1914) as grounds for invading Kiaochow, the German leasehold in Shandong prov., China. Disregarding the Chinese request to withdraw, Japan secretly presented (1915) President Yüan Shih-kai with an ultimatum comprising 21 demands divided into five sections. These provided that Japan assume Germany's position in Kiaochow; that Manchuria and Mongolia be reserved to Japan for exploitation and colonization; that Japan control the main coal deposits of China; that the other powers be excluded from further territorial concessions; and that Japan guide China's military, commercial, and financial affairs. The demands for control of Chinese policy were dropped, partly at the insistence of the United States. The remainder of the demands were accepted by President Yüan after the Japanese threatened to extend their invasion. Treaties were signed (May 25) extending Japan's lease of the Liaotung peninsula (see Liaoning) and of the Manchurian railroads and granting Kiaochow to Japan. The demands, setting a pattern for Japanese domination, were forced on China, but the treaties were not ratified by the Chinese legislature. The Japanese reinforced their claims in 1917 and forced a second agreement from the Chinese in 1918. At the Versailles Conference, Japan, by reason of secret treaties signed in 1917, was awarded the German possessions in Shandong over strong Chinese protest. China refused to sign the Versailles treaty, and this event led directly to the May Fourth Movement of 1919. At the Washington Conference (1921–22), Japan agreed to withdraw its troops from Shandong and restore full sovereignty to China.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.