Trade has been a central element of US-Japan relations, with its attendant ups and downs, for over 150 years. The Treaty of Kanagawa was the first agreement signed between the United States and Japan in 1854, the end result of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s famous mission to open the isolated island nation to the West the previous year. The goals of Perry’s voyage came directly from the Millard Fillmore White House and were three-fold: in addition to securing protection for shipwrecked whalers and access to coal for refueling American vessels, the US sought to establish trade with Japan.
While the treaty established the first two goals, the arrangement did not establish regular trade. As the New York Daily Times wrote in 1855, “The Treaty of Kanagawa does not, after all, open up to our enterprising commerce the rich resources of Japan quite as advantageously as was supposed.” In a moment of prescience, the article praised the treaty as a step in the right direction, stating, “It gives us a limited trade in Japanese productions, which in time is likely to lead to something of far greater importance.”
The reporter could never have foreseen the impact of those “Japanese productions” to both countries’ economies or the future importance of then-secluded Japan as a market for American goods. Over the past few months, this project has explored the ties of trade that continue to bind the US and Japan. In case you missed them, here is a recap of the articles on this site that examine trade and the US-Japan relationship, featuring 2010 data:
- US-Japan bilateral trade at the national level —World Trade Week: Bilateral Trade Important to the Economies of US and Japan
- Composition of US-Japan trade — From Maize to Machinery: US and Japan Top Trade Partners in Numerous Sectors
- Impact of US-Japan trade at state level — Trade with Japan Significant to States across the US
- Growth of US outgoing trade to top Asian markets (including Japan) — Fast and Furious: Asia-Pacific Fastest Growing Market for US Exports
- Growth of incoming trade from top Asian markets (including Japan) — It Takes Two: Imports Increase as US Trade with Asia Grows
- Impact of Japanese components to the global supply chain — One Car Two Drivers? Part 3: Auto Parts—The Supply Chain Becomes a Web
The most recent US-Japan trade figures by US State and Japanese prefecture can also be found in our data section.