Johnny Chinaman: Admiral Togo and the British

Free lecture at the Japan Foundation, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London

7th July 2010, from 6.30pm

Launching his new biography with an illustrated talk, author Jonathan Clements will examine the turbulent relationship between a Japanese war hero and the people of Britain. Feted as the ‘Nelson of the East’ after his victory over the Russian fleet in the battle of Tsushima, Admiral T?g? Heihachir? (1848-1934) returned in triumph to the UK, where he had studied as a youth at a Kent maritime college.

The young T?g?’s English schoolmates had taunted him with the nickname Johnny Chinaman. He later lived in Greenwich, and worked in an Isle of Dogs shipyard on the next generation of Japanese warships. He also stayed with a family in Cambridge, where he was once mistaken for a juggler. Returning to the Far East, he became infamous in the letters page of the Times, when he controversially sank a British-registered transport. All this, however, was forgotten when he sank the Tsar’s navy at Tsushima 1905: the high point of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, followed by his celebrated world tour, which brought him back to the UK 99 years ago this month.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please e-mail your name to eliza (at)

3 thoughts on “Johnny Chinaman: Admiral Togo and the British

  1. Pingback: The Official Schoolgirl Milky Crisis Blog » Blog Archive » T?g? at the Movies (1923)

  2. I would have enjoyed this lecture very much. In your research, did Admiral Togo express any political (or cultural) opinions as to Japan’s relationship vis-a-vis Korea? I am interested in the Admiral’s views on the impact the Russo-Japanese War had on the sovereignty of Korea (if he had any at all!).


    Andrew O.

  3. I don’t remember him expressing an opinion on Korean sovereignty, but he was certainly willing to exploit Japanese hegemony there. One of the reasons that he so thoroughly wiped out the Russian fleet in 1905 is that much of his own fleet were waiting on the “wrong” side of the Tsushima Strait, and came at the Russians from the west, out of Korean harbours.

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