100 Years of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles

On July 14, 1915, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan announced the opening of the Consulate in Los Angeles.  Vice Consul Ujiro Oyama arrived in Los Angeles on August 10 and established the first office in Downtown Los Angeles on the corner of Temple and Spring Streets.  The initial plan to establish the mission on West Second Street was changed due to strong anti-Japanese sentiments in the neighborhood during that time.

The opening of the office was met with jubilation in the community.  The Japanese residents of Los Angeles had first requested the Japanese government for the establishment of a consular post in Los Angeles in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake had led to a large increase in the Japanese American population.  After close to ten years, their wish had finally been granted.  A joyous opening ceremony party was held on August 22 at Verdugo Park, with 3500 attendees.

The consular office jurisdiction included nine Southern California counties and the states of Arizona and New Mexico.  Currently the same areas remain in the consulate general region, except for the State of New Mexico, which is governed by the Denver consulate.

The first official function was the celebration of the Enthronement of His Majesty Emperor Taisho, hosted by Vice Consul Oyama and held at the Ebell Club in November 1915.  Dignitaries from throughout Southern California were in attendance, including 550 U.S. guests and 150 Japanese guests.

The first years of the consulate were focused on countering anti-Japanese movements in Southern California and Arizona and resulted in the office having to move several times.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the consulate was closed, and employees were evacuated to West Virginia on December 7, 1941 and detained until they returned to Japan in June 1942.

In the postwar period, a Japanese government overseas office was opened in May 1950.  In April 1952, after the enactment of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the office was upgraded to become a consulate general.  The consul general’s residence was established on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena, and the consulate general office on West Sixth Street in Downtown Los Angeles.  The first Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles was Kenichiro Yoshida.

Since the reestablishment of the consulate mission in 1952, the Consulate General of Japan has worked closely with the people of Southern California and Arizona to continually build stronger Japan-U.S. relations.  The vibrant Japanese American community has worked with the Consulate General in a mutually supportive relationship, ensuring the region will continue to remain the gateway for Japan to the U.S. and a focal point for the bilateral friendship.  Current Consul General Harry H. Horinouchi is the 26th consul general serving in the region.
Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Vice Consul Ujiro Oyama
(Credit: Nanka Zairyu Daihyoteki
Nihonjin Heiwa Kinen Shashincho, 1922)
Residence of Japanese Consul, Los Angeles
(Credit: Nanka Zairyu Daihyoteki
Nihonjin Heiwa Kinen Shashincho, 1922)
Vice Consul Oyama and Family
(Credit: Nanka Zairyu Daihyoteki
Nihonjin Heiwa Kinen Shashincho, 1922)
Crown Prince Akihito in Los Angeles
(Credit: Japan America Society of Southern California)


Banquet Honoring the Ambassador of Japan in 1954 (Credit: JASSC)

Japan America Society Officer and Counsel John C. McHose,
Consul General Toshio Henry Shimanouchi, Mr. Katsuma Mukaeda and Mr. George T. Aratani at the JAS' 1st Annual Japan America Golf Tournament
at Huntington Beach, July 31, 1968 (Credit: JASSC)
Consul General Jun Niimi at the Japan-U.S. Sakura Centennial, 2012

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Nisei Week Queen,
First Lady Akie Abe in Los Angeles, May 1, 2015

Mrs. Sabine Horinouchi, Consul General Harry H. Horinouchi, 2014
(Credit: Rafu Shimpo)