Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

Subject Area

History

Description

The 1909 Japanese Commercial Commission to the United States, its purpose, and its perception within the United States public and government, is analyzed using U.S. newspapers’ coverage of the Commission over the duration of its approximately three-month tour of the United States. The 1909 Japanese Commercial Commission was an unofficial diplomatic mission, headed by Eiichi Shibusawa and a group of the leading figures of Japan, including businessmen, financiers, heads of chambers of commerce, educators, and newspapermen. They came at the invitation of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the Pacific Coast and hoped to improve relations between the United States and Japan, which had been strained by immigration and Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, through friendly commercial ties. Members on both sides expressed their earnest desire for increased trade and friendly relations, while downplaying the immigration issue and rumors of war that had appeared in U.S. newspapers. The Commission’s favorable reception is evidence that the benefits of increased trade through friendly commercial relations outweighed the conflicting, shifting, and often negative view of Japan held by many Americans at this time, especially in California where controversy over the immigration of Japanese laborers was severe. The welcome the commissioners received from key government figures such as Secretary of State Knox and President Taft is evidence of a shift in perception by the United States government, with the realization that Japan must be taken seriously as a growing world power.

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May 16th, 4:30 PM May 16th, 6:00 PM

Finding Common Interests in the Times of Rising Conflict: Shibusawa Eiichi and the 1909 Japanese Commercial Commission to the United States

Jereld R. Nicholson Library

The 1909 Japanese Commercial Commission to the United States, its purpose, and its perception within the United States public and government, is analyzed using U.S. newspapers’ coverage of the Commission over the duration of its approximately three-month tour of the United States. The 1909 Japanese Commercial Commission was an unofficial diplomatic mission, headed by Eiichi Shibusawa and a group of the leading figures of Japan, including businessmen, financiers, heads of chambers of commerce, educators, and newspapermen. They came at the invitation of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the Pacific Coast and hoped to improve relations between the United States and Japan, which had been strained by immigration and Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, through friendly commercial ties. Members on both sides expressed their earnest desire for increased trade and friendly relations, while downplaying the immigration issue and rumors of war that had appeared in U.S. newspapers. The Commission’s favorable reception is evidence that the benefits of increased trade through friendly commercial relations outweighed the conflicting, shifting, and often negative view of Japan held by many Americans at this time, especially in California where controversy over the immigration of Japanese laborers was severe. The welcome the commissioners received from key government figures such as Secretary of State Knox and President Taft is evidence of a shift in perception by the United States government, with the realization that Japan must be taken seriously as a growing world power.

 

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