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Hawai`i at the Crossroads of the U.S. and Japan before the Pacific War

Hawai`i at the Crossroads of the U.S. and Japan before the Pacific War

Jon Thares Davidann EDITOR
Copyright Date: 2008
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    Hawai`i at the Crossroads of the U.S. and Japan before the Pacific War
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6275-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Dedication and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Jon Davidann, Paul F. Hooper and Eileen H. Tamura

    Hawai‘i has been a Pacific crossroads for centuries.¹ Good winds and skilled navigators brought Marquesans and Tahitians to Hawai‘i long ago. In the period of contact with westerners Hawai‘i became an economic crossroads. Beginning in the late eighteenth century and continuing into the next, Europeans and Americans engaged in fur trader and whaler reprovisioning, and traders arrived for sandalwood, selling it to China until the forests were gone.² Thereafter, in what would become the most profitable of all these enterprises, they grew sugarcane and sold it in the huge American market. By the mid-nineteenth century, Hawai‘i’s location in the middle...

  5. SECTION I Cooperation and Conflict in U.S.–Japanese Relations in Hawai‘i

    • [SECTION I Introduction]
      (pp. 9-12)
      Paul F. Hooper

      U.S.–Japanese relations in the early years of the interwar era were reasonably amicable despite the tensions generated by a number of conflicts dating back to Perry’s rather brusque mid-nineteenth-century establishment of relations between the two countries. They were firmly enough grounded to have weathered such difficulties as Japan’s discomfort over the 1907–8 Gentlemen’s Agreement with the United States, the refusal of the United States and the other major powers to include a racial equality clause in the Covenant of the League of Nations, U.S. insistence upon a lesser naval status for Japan at the 1921–22 Washington Disarmament...

    • CHAPTER 1 From the Center to the Periphery: Hawai‘i and the Pacific Community
      (pp. 13-41)
      Tomoko Akami

      While the term “the Asia-Pacific region” has become more common in recent years, the region has been called the Pacific until recently. In North America, the term “Pacific” meant not only the Pacific Ocean, but also the Pacific Rim, or trans-Pacific relations. The notion of a Pacific Community, on which this chapter focuses, derives from this concept of the Pacific. It was an imagined community, centered in the crossroads of Hawai‘i and focused on trans-Pacific relations in the 1920s. It was also an expression of an American regional order, and through this vision, a group of American elites tried to...

    • CHAPTER 2 “Colossal Illusions”: The Institute of Pacific Relations in U.S.–Japanese Relations, 1919–1938
      (pp. 42-67)
      Jon Davidann

      The failure of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR)—a nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded in 1925 to promote mutual understanding and create better relations in the Pacific in the interwar period—is usually thought of in terms of external circumstances. The rise of Japanese militarism, the struggles of China to emerge as a sovereign nation, and the Great Depression are some of the reasons given for the collapse of the IPR’s project. While these reasons cannot be ignored, I would like to suggest that there were other conditions present in the interwar period, both within the IPR and in the...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Japanese Institute of Pacific Relations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact: The Activities and Limitations of Private Diplomacy
      (pp. 68-95)
      Michiko Ito

      The day has passed when high policy can be carried on by diplomats who know little about the opinion or condition of the people with whose political fate they deal.¹

      As wars destroy the existing orders and postwar eras begin with the search for new orders to stabilize the world, so the Great War gave birth to new world and regional peace mechanisms. The League of Nations Covenant declared that the League would regard any war or threat of war as a matter for the whole League and would take adequate actions to safeguard the peace of the world. The...

    • CHAPTER 4 Hawai‘i, the IPR, and the Japanese Immigration Problem: A Focus on the First and Second IPR Conferences of 1925 and 1927
      (pp. 96-110)
      Nobuo Katagiri

      Internationalists in Hawai‘i took a leading part in the establishment of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR) in 1925.¹ Their basic belief was that “the Pacific is no longer one of the world’s great barriers; it is a highway of travel and commerce, and the cable and wireless unite us by almost instantaneous communication.”² However, they also recognized that cross-cultural conflicts like the immigration problem between Japan and the United States and antiforeign nationalism in China had actually deepened regional divisions. Taking these realities into account, they saw the principal purpose of the IPR as the creation of a bridge...

  6. SECTION II The Politics of Americanization from Japanese Immigrant Perspectives

    • [SECTION II Introduction]
      (pp. 111-118)
      Eileen H. Tamura

      During the interwar years, the words “Americanization” and “assimilation” were used interchangeably; any discussion of either word in this introduction, therefore, necessitates a discussion of the other. This short piece will not provide a comprehensive examination of the vast literature on assimilation and Americanization. Instead it will mention some relevant studies.

      Today the word “Americanization” may refer to the process “by which newcomers or their descendants come to identify themselves as ‘American,’ however they understand that identity.”¹ From the final decades of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, however, Americanization had a different and distinctive meaning in the...

    • CHAPTER 5 Americanizing Hawai‘i’s Japanese: A Transnational Partnership and the Politics of Racial Harmony during the 1920s
      (pp. 119-145)
      Hiromi Monobe

      On August 26, 1920, approximately two months after a major sugar plantation strike on O‘ahu, Frank Cooke Atherton (1877–1945), a distinguished business and civic leader in the Territory of Hawai‘i, wrote a letter to his friend Shibusawa Eiichi, a prominent entrepreneur in Japan.¹ An advocate of international friendship between the two countries, Atherton was the vice president of Castle and Cooke, one of the so-called Big Five business concerns that controlled the sugar industry, the pivot of the territorial economy.

      I am very pleased to learn from the Reverend Okumura that he has arrived in Japan … [to present...

    • CHAPTER 6 Social, Cultural, and Spiritual Struggles of the Japanese in Hawai‘i: The Case of Okumura Takie and Imamura Yemyo and Americanization
      (pp. 146-170)
      Shimada Noriko

      During the interwar period, social as well as spiritual dynamics operated in the rivalry between Buddhists and Christians within the Japanese community in Hawai‘i. The Japanese population in the American territory steadily increased, and in 1920 the Japanese numbered 109,000, nearly half (42.7%) of Hawai‘i’s population. By 1940, it would increase to 158,000 (37.3%).¹ During these years, two spiritual leaders, Imamura Yemyo (1867–1932) of Honpa Hongwanji Mission and Okumura Takie (1865–1951) of Makiki Christian Church, were conspicuous among the Japanese. They appear to stand for different sets of Japanese ideas and values in the face of tense social...

    • CHAPTER 7 In Search of a New Identity: Shiga Shigetaka’s Recommendations for Japanese in Hawai‘i
      (pp. 171-191)
      Masako Gavin

      After the Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), overpopulation and unemployment became pressing issues in Japan. Many intellectuals were concerned about the social and economic hardships caused by these problems and advocated solving them through emigration. The prominent journalist and professor of geography at the Tokyo Senmon Gakkō (presently Waseda University), Shiga Shigetaka (1863–1927), believed that Hawai‘i was an ideal migration destination for the unemployed and impoverished Japanese.

      Organizations were established to assist people going abroad.¹ After the first wave of migration starting in 1885 saw 945 Japanese settlers in Hawai‘i, the numbers steadily increased, so that by 1909 there were...

    • CHAPTER 8 Buddhism at the Crossroads of the Pacific: Imamura Yemyō and Buddhist Social Ethics
      (pp. 192-216)
      Moriya Tomoe

      Inevitably one comes across the name of Imamura Yemyō (1867–1932) when studying the history of Japanese immigrants and Buddhism in Hawai‘i. Imamura was in charge of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, affiliated with Jōdo Shinshū Hongwanji-ha (commonly known as Nishi Hongwanji, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan), a Japanese Pure Land Buddhist denomination. Nevertheless, he is only mentioned in detail in Louise Hunter’s study entitledBuddhism in Hawaii,on which most of the postwar studies still heavily depend.¹ What Hunter has shown us in her work is an image of Imamura and Buddhism quite different from the way contemporaries of...

    • CHAPTER 9 In the Strong Wind of the Americanization Movement: The Japanese-Language School Litigation Controversy and Okumura’s Educational Campaign
      (pp. 217-240)
      Mariko Takagi-Kitayama

      Starting in the mid-1910s, a strong wind of Americanization blew through the United States. Between 1871 and 1910, more than twenty million new immigrants arrived from eastern and southern Europe and some Asian countries, bringing with them their own languages, religions, and lifestyles. As America took part in World War I, a strong sense of nationalism emerged. Americans felt an urgent need to build one solid America. “One nation, one language under one flag” became the motto. These Americanization campaigns spread among Americans, targeting ethnic groups clinging to their traditions.

      Hawai‘i was a focus of Americanization. When the islands became...

  7. List of Contributors
    (pp. 241-242)
  8. Index
    (pp. 243-247)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 248-248)