Twenty-Seven Years in Japan-A Report and Personal Account

  • Howard F. van Zandt (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


I first went out to live in Japan in 1918, as a boy of ten, when my father had accepted the position of Chief Engineer of the Asano Cement Co. at Yokohama. Yokohama had been opened to the West at the beginning of July, 1859, and an international settlement created there. Until July of 1899 foreigners were protected by extraterritoriality laws under which they were tried in consular courts of their own nationality rather than by Japanese judges. Foreigners could not live outside of the Treaty Ports without obtaining specific approval of the Japanese authorities. The Japanese resented the extraterritorial rights enjoyed by Western powers, as these rights impinged on Japanese sovereignty. In a sense, the international settlements in Nagasaki, Kobe, Osaka, Yokohama and Tokyo were alien enclaves in Japanese territory. The foreign residents had mixed feelings about this extraterritoriality. Although it was comforting to some to be judged by their fellow countrymen, others regarded this as of doubtful benefit. One of the objections to the extraterritoriality laws was that they kept foreigners from establishing factories outside of the international settlements. In July, 1899 the extraterritoriality laws were abolished by international agreement. On that date foreigners commenced a new life outside the confines of their settlements. The first new firm to be established was the Nippon Electric Company. In 1898 Japanese capitalists and the American owned International Western Electric Co. agreed to establish a joint venture for the purpose of manufacturing telephone and telegraph apparatus; in 1899 it went into business.