The History of the Consulate General of Japan in SF

photoThe Japanese consular office in San Francisco first started service as the "Consulate of Japan" on August 25, 1870. It is the oldest Japanese Government establishment in the U.S., with U.S. national Charles Wolcott Brooks serving as its first Honorary Consul. The Consulate of Japan in San Francisco opened one month earlier than even the Legation of Japan (now the Embassy of Japan).

San Francisco has played a significant role as a gateway throughout the history of the U.S.-Japan relationship. It was in 1860 when the first Japanese emissaries to the United States visited San Francisco Bay with a diplomatic delegation from the Tokugawa Shogunate aboard the United States Navy's steam frigate Powhatan, accompanied by the Kanrin Maru. This was an official delegation dispatched to negotiate the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Three crew members on the ship were left in San Francisco because of illness and rest in peace at the Japanese Cemetery in Colma, a suburb of San Francisco.

As Japan modernized in the late 19th century, an increasing number of Japanese people crossed the Pacific Ocean to the west coast of America, including official delegations, merchants, students and immigrants. After the Meiji Restoration in Japan (in which feudalism and the Shogunate were abolished), the Meiji government (Japan's first modernized government) needed to create diplomatic delegations permanently stationed in foreign countries to develop Japan's international relationships. With that in mind, the Japanese government designated an American, Charles Wolcott Brooks, as the first Consul of Japan in the U.S. in 1870, only two years after the Meiji Restoration. The first Japanese national to serve as Consul was Kentaro YANAGIYA in 1876. In 1907, our office was upgraded from "Consulate" to "Consulate General" and consequently, Chozo KOIKE, then head of mission, became the first Consul General of Japan in San Francisco.

Although our office was closed and the mission returned to Japan in 1941 because of the unfortunate war between Japan and the U.S., a new mission resumed its services in San Francisco as the Consulate General of Japan on April 28, 1952. This was seven months after 48 nations signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan at the peace conference held here in San Francisco. In the postwar era, the relationship between Japan and the U.S. has become increasingly significant. Looking back over the long history of our mission here in San Francisco, we hope to continue our tradition of fostering better understanding, cooperation, and friendship between our two countries for future generations into the 21st century.

Chronological list of our heads of the Japanese mission in San Francisco

1870 Aug 25 Honorary Consul Charles Wolcott Brooks
1872 Apr 27 Deputy Consul Horace D. Dunn
1874 Mar 11 Vice Consul Saburo Takagi
1876 Dec 15 Consul  Kentaro Yanagiya
1883 May 15 Consul  Hiroshi Tachida
1886 Mar 18 Consul  Saburo Fujii
1889 Mar 1 Consul  Toshiya Kawakita
1890 Nov 2 Consul  Sutemi Chinda
1894 Nov 5 Consul Second Class
(later, Consul First Class) 
Saburo Jinya
1898 Jun 7 Consul Second Class
(later, Consul First Class)
Hirokichi Mutsu
1901 Feb 9 Consul Kisaburo Ueno
1907 Dec 9 Consul General Chozo Koike
1912 Feb 5 Consul General Matsuzo Nagai
1916 Jun 1 Consul General Masanao Hanihara
1918 Oct 7 Consul General Tamekichi Ota
1921 Jan 24 Consul General Shichitaro Yada
1923 May 21 Consul General Unojiro Oyama
1925 Jan 14 Consul General Toshihiko Taketomi
1927 Dec 9 Consul General Morizo Ida
1930 Jun 24 Consul General Kaname Wakasugi
1933 Nov 8 Consul General Hiroshi Tomii
1936 Aug 20 Consul General Kanzo Shiozaki
1939 Jan 3 Consul General Toshito Sato
1941 Feb 20 Consul General Yoshio Muto

Mission withdraws on Dec 31, 1941
1950 May 3 Chief, Japanese Government Overseas Agency Atsushi Uyama
1952 Mar 24 Chief, Japanese Government Overseas Agency
(later, Consul General)
Mitsuo Tanaka

Consulate General reopens on Apr 28, 1952
1952 Dec 16 Consul General Yasusuke Katsuno
1956 Oct 8 Consul General Akira Nishiyama
1960 Feb 9 Consul General Masao Yagi
1961 Jul 19 Consul General Toshio Yamanaka
1963 Sep 25 Consul General Tsutomu Wada
1967 Mar 1 Consul General Seiichi Shima
1970 Jan 11 Consul General Eikichi Hara
1972 Dec 21 Consul General Toshikazu Maeda
1975 Feb 3 Consul General Hidenori Sueoka
1977 Dec 29 Consul General Tamio Amau
1979 Oct 11 Consul General Hiroshi Kitamura
1982 Sep 15 Consul General Takehiko Nishiyama
1984 Feb 6 Consul General Masaki Seo
1985 Dec 10 Consul General Tatsuo Arima
1988 Jan 31 Consul General Shunji Yanai
1990 Aug 31 Consul General Atsushi Tokinoya
1994 Mar 4 Consul General Ryozo Kato
1995 Sep 1 Consul General Kiyohiko Nanao
1998 Feb 19 Consul General Hitoshi Tanaka
2000 Feb 11 Consul General Nobuaki Tanaka
2002 Mar 9 Consul General Shigeru Nakamura
2004 Mar 26 Consul General Makoto Yamanaka
2007 Sep 9 Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine
2010 Sep 23 Consul General Hiroshi Inomata
2013 Nov 2 Consul General Masato Watanabe
2015 May 22 Consul General Jun Yamada
2018 Feb 23 Consul General Tomochika Uyama
2020 Feb 10 Consul General Toru Maeda
2021 Sep 9 Consul General Hiroshi Kawamura
2022 Sep 8 Consul General Yasushi Noguchi
2023 Sep 25 Consul General Yo Osumi

Brief Chronology

1848 Gold is discovered at the Sacramento River. The Gold Rush starts (1849)
1850 California becomes the 31st state
1860 Kanrin Maru, the first official Japanese vessel to visit San Francisco, arrives
1868 Meiji Restoration (Japan)
1869 Transcontinental Railroad is completed
1870 Consulate of Japan in San Francisco opens
1906 Great San Francisco Earthquake. The Consulate office is damaged
1907 Consulate of Japan in San Francisco upgraded to Consulate General of Japan
1924 Japanese Exclusion Act enacted in the U.S.
1929 Great Depression begins
1937 Golden Gate Bridge is completed
1939 World War II begins
1941 The war between Japan and the U.S. starts. The mission is recalled to Japan.
1945 World War II ends
1950 The mission returns as a foreign service office
1951 Treaty of Peace signed with Japan in San Francisco
1952 Consulate General of Japan reopens
1968 Japan Information Center (our public relations section) opens
1988 Consulate General of Japan moves from Japantown to Fremont Street
1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco Bay Area
1996 The Consulate website is established
2014 Consulate General of Japan moves from Fremont Street to its current location