Montenegro and Japan: Thousands of miles apart, 100 years’ War

In 1904, When Japan and Russia fought in the Russo-Japanese War, Montenegro, a seemingly unrelated country, declared war on Japan. Although the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, the “state of war” between Japan and Montenegro remained for more than 100 years. These two countries are thousands of miles apart, what kind of entanglement is there?
Located thousands of miles away from Japan, Montenegro is a small country in the Balkans with an area of 13,800 square kilometers and a population of more than 600,000. However, Montenegro only ended its state of war with Japan in 2006, meaning the two countries officially went to war in 1904. That year, The Russo-Japanese War broke out between Japan and Russia, and Montenegro, a seemingly unrelated country, also declared war on Japan. Although the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, the “state of war” between Japan and Montenegro remained for more than 100 years. So what is the beef between Montenegro and Japan?
Montenegro’s relations with Russia
In 1904, Japan and Russia fought for dominance of northeast China and the Far East. Montenegro also declared war against Japan.
Montenegro and Russia may be thousands of miles apart, but both share a common ancestor, the Slavs. The Slavs are among the most loyal to the Orthodox Church in Europe.
Montenegrins have always lived in the mountains, creating a small, sparsely populated country that was attached to the Kingdom of Serbia in the Middle Ages. However, as the Eastern Roman Empire, the core of the Eastern Orthodox Church, was destroyed by the Ottoman Empire, the Balkan countries began to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire. The Montenegrins, on the other hand, were able to repel Ottoman invasions with their mountainous terrain, leaving them as the only Balkan country not under their control.
At the same time, Russia emerged in the 16th century as the largest and most powerful of the Orthodox and Slavic nations. Russia, seeking to expand its influence in the Black Sea and the Balkans, fully supported Balkan independence. 1877 War broke out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Although Montenegro had never been under Ottoman rule, it was small in size, had few resources and was landlocked. It needed to fight the Ottoman Empire to become a coastal state. So Montenegro actively supported Russia. With Russia’s help, Montenegro expanded its territory and formed a close military alliance with Russia. So, when the Russo-Japanese war broke out, Montenegro immediately declared war on Japan.
The unfinished war between Montenegro and Japan
Montenegro declared war on Japan in 1904, but it had virtually no control over far Eastern affairs and did not send a regular army to fight the Japanese. For Japan, the remote “tiny land” of Montenegro is negligible compared with the “behemoth” of Russia. The two countries are nominally at war, but their armies do not actually fight each other.
In August 1905, Japan defeated the main Russian forces in a naval battle against The Malacca, and Russia surrendered. In September, Japan and Russia signed the Treaty of Portsmouth, which gave Japan special privileges over parts of northeast China and the Korean Peninsula. Montenegro, although nominally a “participant” in the Russo-Japanese war, did not actually participate in the war and was not invited to participate in the treaty. This meant that Montenegro remained nominally at war with Japan.
From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, more and more Balkan regions declared their independence from the Ottomans. After the independence of the major Balkan countries, Montenegro became the smallest country, faced with increasingly severe problems of survival, and had to seek a better sponsor. Russia, though powerful, was too far from Montenegro to provide direct protection, and Montenegro became dependent on its “big brother” Serbia.
In 1914, the Balkan tinderbox sparked World War I, with various Balkan countries lining up. Montenegro, on the side of the Allies led by Britain, France and Russia, declared war on Germany, Austria-Hungary and other Allies. Japan also joined the Allies because of its conflict with Germany over the Shandong Peninsula in China. At this time, although Both Japan and Montenegro were members of the Allies, in 1916 all of Montenegro was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was not until 1918, with the help of the Serbian army, that Montenegro drove out the Austro-Hungarian army. Since then, Montenegro’s fate has been gradually dominated by Serbia, losing its autonomy and independence.
Montenegro became part of Serbia after World War I. Serbia in turn joined with Croatia and Slovenia to form the “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”. Japan and Yugoslavia established diplomatic relations, but Montenegro lost diplomatic rights when it became part of Serbia, which meant that Montenegro had two superiors (Yugoslavia and Serbia). The issue of the war in Japan and Montenegro was also shelved.
Montenegro became independent, ending the state of war with Japan
After the outbreak of World War II, Japan, Germany and Italy formed the Axis camp, and Yugoslavia joined the Allied camp. 1939 Yugoslavia declared war against Japan.
World War II ended in the defeat of the Axis powers and Yugoslavia, led by Tito, ousted the king and established a federation. Montenegro broke away from Serbia after World War II and was elevated to the status of a republic, equal to That of Serbia. The post-World War II Yugoslav Federation consisted of six republics (Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro).
1952 The Yugoslav Federation established formal diplomatic relations with Japan. However, Montenegro could not end its state of war with Japan because it was not a sovereign state.
In the 1990s, four of the six federal republics of Yugoslavia declared independence, leaving Only Montenegro and Serbia. Later, Montenegro and Serbia formed the Yugoslav Union. The Yugoslav federation was isolated by western sanctions and military strikes due to its pro-russian activities, and its economy gradually deteriorated. Montenegro feels it is “on the wrong side” of getting too close to Serbia, and its independence streak is growing.
In 2003, the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia adopted the Charter of Serbia and Montenegro, granting Montenegro a referendum, stipulating that Montenegro could declare independence if the “yes” vote exceeded 55%.
In May 2006, a referendum on Montenegrin independence took place as promised, with the independents winning by a narrow margin. On June 3, Montenegro declared its independence and was recognized by the international community.
On June 21, 2006, Japan announced its recognition of Montenegro and moved to resolve the pending state of war between the two countries. The two countries signed a diplomatic peace treaty, which officially ended the “Hundred Years’ War” between them.

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