The perception of the Japanese in the Estonian soldiers’ letters from the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905)


Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905)
soldiers’ letters
image of Japan as a war enemy
thematic analysis

How to Cite

Selart, E. “The Perception of the Japanese in the Estonian soldiers’ Letters from the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 6, June 2019, pp. 115-34, doi:10.32926/2018.6.sel.perce.


The Russo-Japanese war (1905-1904) had a great impact on the Estonian society as it instigated the discontent in the society that in the end lead to the turbulent events of the Russian revolution in 1905 and pursue of political independence that was achieved in 1918. It also changed the content of the Estonian printed media as these two years escalated a Japanese boom that was never seen before or after: almost in every single newspaper issue there were articles written about Japan (war news, foreign news, opinion stories, fiction, travelogues, etc). As a new genre, newspapers started to publish the letters of the soldiers who were sent to the battlefield in the Far East. On the whole about 10.000 Estonian men were mobilized that was a considerable proportion of the nation of 1 million and the Estonians back at home were eager to know every piece of information how their men are doing in the distant warfare. Consequently the war created a genre in newspapers that was providing war news without the mediation of foreign languages or journalists.

In the context of the research of the Estonian printed media history, the soldiers’ letters have not been researched as a type of journalistic genre in the newspapers. The aim of the current paper is to study how did the Estonian soldiers construct in their letters the Japanese as an enemy and which topics and comparisons did they use while writing about the war. The thematic analysis was used as a research method to study the letters published in three main Estonian newspapers from spring 1904 up to spring 1905. Main topics in the letters have been divided into directly war related issues or descriptions of the surrounding environment. In both categories the positive or negative images of Japanese have been analysed.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Ene Selart