Hawai`i at the Crossroads of the U.S. and Japan before the Pacific War
Hawai‘i at the Crossroads tells the story of Hawai‘i’s role in the emergence of Japanese cultural and political internationalism during the interwar period. Following World War I, Japan became an important global power and Hawai‘i Japanese represented its largest and most significant emigrant group. During the 1920s and 1930s, Hawai‘i’s Japanese American population provided Japan with a welcome opportunity to expand its international and intercultural contacts. This volume, based on papers presented at the 2001 Crossroads Conference by scholars from the U.S., Japan, and Australia, explores U.S.–Japanese conflict and cooperation in Hawai‘i—truly the crossroads of relations between the two countries prior to the Pacific War. From the 1880s to 1924, 180,000 Japanese emigrants arrived in the U.S. A little less than half of those original arrivals settled in Hawai‘i; by 1900 they constituted the largest ethnic group in the Islands, making them of special interest to Tokyo. Even after its withdrawal from the League of Nations in 1933, Japan viewed Hawai‘i as a largely sympathetic and supportive ally. Through its influential international conferences, Hawai‘i’s Institute of Pacific Relations conducted a program that was arguably the only informal diplomatic channel of consequence left to Japan following its withdrawal from the League. The Islands represented Japan’s best opportunity to explain itself to the U.S.; here American and Japanese diplomats, official and unofficial, could work to resolve the growing tension between their two countries. College exchange programs and substantial trade and business opportunities continued between Japan and Hawai‘i right up until December 1941. While hopes on both sides of the Pacific were shattered by the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japan-Hawai‘i connection underlying not a few of them remains important, informative, and above all compelling. Its further exploration provided the rationale for the Crossroads Conference and the essays compiled here.
Subjects: Anthropology, History
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