Power transitions, status dissatisfaction, and war: The Sino-Japanese war of 1894-1895

Andrew Q. Greve, Jack S. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Although power transition theory offers a powerful model of international conflict, scholars have not adequately operationalized the theory’s key variable of satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the status quo. We argue that status dissatisfaction is an important component of a rising state’s overall dissatisfaction with the system. We apply our revised power transition framework to the 1894-1895 Sino-Japanese War. Japan’s revisionist foreign policy was driven by economic and security threats posed by China’s control over Korea, dissatisfaction with Japan’s place in the Chinadominated East Asian hierarchy, the hope for recognition as a great power by the West, status-related domestic pressures, and by belief change that was endogenous to shifting power. Despite several earlier crises, Japan made the decision for war only after it had achieved parity with China, which is consistent with power transition theory’s hypothesis that under conditions of shifting power, parity is a necessary condition for war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-178
Number of pages31
JournalSecurity Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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