My paper will examine the nature of Japan’s trade with the US over the Pacific from the 1910s to the 1920s. In order to do so, I will investigate the changing characteristics of trade commodities and sailing routes between Yokohama and Kobe on the one hand, and San Francisco and Los Angeles on the other.
The reasons for this research are twofold; first, there are no studies which focus on these specific trade commodities and routes, although there are some classical studies such as Walter LaFeber’s “Clash” and Irye Akira’s “Across the Pacific” which refer broadly to the US-Japanese trade. Secondly, my paper will show the influence of major historical events on both countries’ trade relations, such as the opening of the Panama Canal, WWI, the Great Kanto Earth Quake etc.
Regarding the commodities, my paper will focus on raw silk as Japan’s chief export goods to the US and raw cotton and crude oil as the US’s major export goods to Japan. For the trade routes, the paper will also take the New York route via the Panama Canal into consideration, although it will mainly elaborate on the routes to the US West coast. From Japan, it is particularly important to see the change in roles that Yokohama and Kobe played in this trade due to the Kanto earthquake which devastated the port of Yokohama.
Therefore, my paper will consider the nature of US-Japanese trade through the major events that affected trade commodities and routes over that time.