A Forgotten Pioneer in the Pacific Rim Trade: Mexico’s Efforts to ‘Open’ Japan, 1876-1910

Raul Bringas-Nostti

In 1876, General Porfirio Diaz took power in Mexico. His military coup was financed by American investors, who saw in him an era of stability and business-friendly policies. For 35 years he ruled Mexico with violence and had impressive economic achievements. His efforts to attract investments and promote free trade reached Japan. Mexico became one of the first “western” countries to have formal relations with the Asian nation. Diaz expected to forge a strong business and political alliance. In 1888, Mexico and Japan signed a trade and navigation treaty, which gave Mexicans extraordinary advantages not available to other countries. Even the San Francisco Chronicle declared that Europe and the United States had to follow the Mexican example. When Diaz gave green light for a Japanese naval base at Magdalena Bay, Baja California, the United States demanded Mexico to be less friendly with Japan. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 overthrew Diaz. With the fall of his regime, the strange and audacious relationship between Mexico and Japan fell into oblivion.