Historical Timeline of Japanese Chilean


Project Description


Institutional Participants



Staff and Advisors

English Spanish

Japanese American
National Museum

A Japanese vessel looking for new commercial routes calls at a Chilean port.
The Japanese naval training vessel called Ryujo (or Ryuujoo), under the command of Commander Ito, arrives at Valparaíso Port on an official mission.
Chilean population census is conducted. Two Japanese residents are counted.
War of the Pacific. Chile declares war on Peru and Bolivia. The main cause of the war is a confrontation over the rights to the mining of nitrate. The war lasts through 1883, and Chile comes out the victor in the conflict.
A Chilean consulate is established in Yokohama. Its existence is short-lived because Chilean internal conflicts undermine the possibility of its long-term existence.
Revolution of 1891. Culmination of the political conflicts that typify the government of President Manuel Balmaceda (1886-1891). He faces social change by trying to be a man ahead of his time. Faced with defeat, he opts for suicide.
The Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation is signed between Chile and Japan in Washington, U.S.A. An additional protocol amendment is added in Tokyo, Japan in 1899. The treaty is amended again in 1906.
The plenipotentiary minister in Japan, Carlos Morla Vicuña, not only signs the amendments to the Treaty of 1897, but also creates trade relation incentives. He promotes the nitrate industry. In 1901, Chile sells Japan 5.6 million pounds of it. By 1911 sales will have increased to 51 million pounds.
The Japanese "Fukushima Imperial Theatre Company" visits Valparaíso. They perform in the Teatro Nacional de Valparaíso (Valparaíso National Theatre).
The frigate "Esmeralda III" is sold to Japan. With the new name, "Itzumi," it plays a large, succesful role in the Russo-Japanese War.
The war training vessel, "Baquedano," reciprocates various Japanese visits by sailing to Japan under the command of Naval Captain Luis Gómez Carreño. It does so again in 1908 and 1911.
The Transoceanic Emigration Company begins talks to try to realize organized migrations of Japanese to Chile.
The effects of the nitrate boom are evident in the population.
The Toyo Steamship Company begins making regular voyages to South America. The first of these voyages is made by a vessel that arrives in Iquique in February of 1906.
Japanese arrive at the Koyahuashi Mine in Tarapacá (Iquique). (There are no historical data about how long they stayed.)
Chilean population census. A population of 3,250,000 inhabitants is registered. The Japanese total 209, and are dispersed in 9 localities throughout the country.
First Japanese consular mission to Chile under the leadership of the First Plenipotentiary Minister, Mr. Yoki Hioki.
The shipping company "Toyo Kisen Kaisha" begins making regular voyages to Valparaíso.
As part of the celebration of Chile's hundredth anniversary of independence, the Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) is inaugurated, and Japan participates in the festivities.
The Santiago - Mendoza (Argentina) Railroad is inaugurated.
The large commercial retailer, "Senda y Cía" (Senda & Co.) opens its doors in Valparaíso. In 1913, the commercial retailers "Shimizu" and "El Nuevo Japón" (The New Japan) do the same. Commerce begins to expand.
The Arica - La Paz (Bolivia) Railroad is inaugurated.
North American capital investments in the mining of copper begin in "Chiquicamata".
In 1921, Chile becomes the world's second biggest producer of copper.
A Japanese commercial exhibit takes place in the "Quinta Normal" Cultural Center in Santiago, Chile.
Synthetic nitrate is invented. The downfall of the nitrate industry begins. It would finally plummet between the years 1929 and 1933.
Chilean population census. It registers a total population of 3,750,000 inhabitants. The number of Japanese present in the country has by now increased to a total of 557, and they are spread out over 20 different localities.
Tacna is returned to Peru. It had been turned over to Chile at the end of the War of the Pacific, 1879-1883 (see above).
The world's great economic depression begins. Chile dangerously lowers its sales of nitrate and copper, and its external credit is totally suspended. Unemployment and poverty increase. The public debt grows enormously.
The population census registers a population of 4,464,000 inhabitants. The population of Japanese in the country reaches up to 670.
A reactivation of the national economy begins. There are incentives for industries meant to replace imports. The following year, payments on the external debt are re-started.
A Japanese Organization is established in Santiago. It is only active for a short time. More attempts at establishing other such organizations take place in the years to follow.
The Chilean-Japanese Cultural Institute is established in Santiago.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Santiago, Japan presents Chile with a giant Chilean flag.
Diplomatic and consular relations with Japan (and also with Germany and Italy) are suspended.
Diverse restrictions are placed on Japanese residents throughout the country. Within the same year, exiles (usually lasting six months) cease.
The Santiago Japanese Organization leases and organizes the use of a collective farm which is called "Caupolicán". Its purpose is to give work and other forms of aid to the victims of the "black lists". The project is carried out with much success.
In April, Chile declares war on Japan. On the 15th of August, Japan surrenders.
Formal diplomatic relations with Japan begin again. But as far back as 1949, trade with Japan was already going on.
The "Sociedad Japonesa de Beneficencia" (Japanese Charity Organization) is legally established.
Both the Chilean and Japanese governments agree to turn their consular missions into embassies.
The census registers 430 Japanese in Chile. This number would have gone down to 302 in 1970. Nevertheless, Japanese capital investments and post-War aid from Japan begin to arrive in the country.
Japanese support organizations are established. The first to arrive in the country is JETRO (1963). In 1980, the Chilean-Japanese Chamber of Industry and Commerce is created. JICA arrives in 1983.
The migration of Nikkei Chileans to Japan for the purpose of dekasegi begins. The total number of those involved would slightly exceed 100 people.
Chile begins to reactivate its economy, and opens its doors more and more to the outside world.
Chile-Japan relations grow stronger. Chilean Presidents Alywin and Frei both make formal visits to Japan: Alywin in 1992, and Frei in 1994 and 1997. In 1996, Japanese Prime Minister Ryoutaro Hashimoto visits Chile.
The Sociedad Japonesa (Japanese Organization) and JICA conduct a census of the Nikkei population in the country.
The 100th Year anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation, signed in 1897, is commemorated both in Chile and in Japan. The Sociedad Japonesa de Beneficencia (Japanese Charity Organization) participates artistically in these celebrations.
The Sociedad Japonesa de Beneficencia (Japanese Charity Organization) becomes the headquarters of the X COPANI (Convención Panamericana Nikkei [Pan-American Nikkei Convention]). Twelve countries, including Japan, participate.
According to the figures presented by the Japanese Embassy in Chile, Japanese with permanent residency in Chile add up to 402, and those residing temporarily amount to 835, for a total of 1,235.