On August 11, 1909, a Nagoya-based Methodist missionary named Willard de Lamater Kingsbury agreed to become the first U.S. “consular agent” in Central Japan. He commuted from Nagoya to Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture to issue forms called consular invoices certifying the value of products exported from that port to the United States. Yokkaichi was opened to foreign trade in 1899, eight years before Nagoya’s port began its long journey to becoming Japan’s gateway to the world, and porcelain was the region’s main export at the time. Kingsbury served until 1917, later started his own trading company in Nagoya, and died in Kobe in 1929.
On July 3, 1920, Consul Harry Franklin Hawley officially opened the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya. Located in Higashi Ward, the Consulate was a two-story building built by the city of Nagoya to serve as both office and residence. It was used for over 20 years. Hawley was a 38-year-old official from Newark, New Jersey, who was transferred to Nagoya in 1918 from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, where he had served as a consular clerk. Records show that one of his first official acts was registering the presence of his predecessor, missionary-turned-consular agent-turned trader Willard Kingsbury. Hawley served in Nagoya until 1925.
The Consulate was closed on the eve of World War II. Its last day of operation was December 31, 1940; a lone U.S. diplomat, Vice Consul C.H. Stephan, remained in Nagoya for another month to wrap up remaining official business. The building narrowly escaped bombing during the conflict.
Consular operations in Nagoya did not resume until well after the end of the war. Starting in March 1949, an American consular officer would come down from the Yokohama Consular Office occasionally to sign consular invoices and perform limited citizenship services.
On March 1, 1950, a consular office was opened in Nagoya’s Dai-ichi Hotel. As the occupation was still underway, its official designation was Nagoya Division, Diplomatic Section, General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP). Later that year, on August 21, the Nagoya Consular District was established, to include the prefectures of Aichi, Gifu, Mie, Shiga, Fukui, Ishikawa, Toyama, and most of Nagano. On September 7, 1951, the office was moved to the second floor of the Nitto Building in Nakamura Ward.
On April 29, 1952, the Treaty of Peace between Japan and the Allied Powers came into effect. As a result, the title of the office became, once more, American Consulate, Nagoya. In June of that year, the Consulate again moved, this time to the second floor of the National City Bank of New York, located in Kuwana-cho, Naka Ward.
On December 12, 1958, year-long construction on an American Consulate building was completed, and the office was opened by U.S. Ambassador Douglas MacArthur II. This three-floor building was located at 6-1, Minami Sotobori-cho in Nagoya’s Naka Ward, and remained the home of the Consulate until its closing in 1970. Upon closing, the office building, housing for consulate officers and families, and land was sold to the Government of Japan. In 1987 this land was purchased from the Ministry of Finance by the Aichi Prefectural Government and is now the site of the Aichi Prefectural Library, opened in April 1991.
Following the closure of the Consulate, Aichi Prefectural Government and Assembly provided for the office space of an American Commercial Information Office. This office, staffed by two Japanese Foreign Service National employees, remained in operation until February 1981.
The Nagoya American Center, a public diplomacy hub, was opened in 1984 on the sixth floor of the Nagoya International Center Building near Nagoya Station.
After a 16-year absence, a U.S. consular presence was re-established in Nagoya through the opening of the Nagoya Representative Office of the U.S. Consulate General, Osaka-Kobe. In March 1986, an American officer was assigned to the Representative Office and lived in Nagoya while reporting to the Consulate General in Osaka. The officer was charged with following political and economic developments in the Tokai region of Aichi, Mie, and Gifu prefectures, while limited consular services were provided by visits of consular teams from Osaka.
On December 2, 1993, U.S. Ambassador Walter F. Mondale participated in the formal re-opening of the U.S. Consulate, Nagoya, located on the sixth floor of the SIS Nishiki Building in Naka Ward. Directed by a Principal Officer assigned by the U.S. Department of State, the Consulate also housed the office of the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service, which was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1991.
In March 2005, the Consulate moved to the sixth floor of the Nagoya International Center Building and was merged into a single space with the Nagoya American Center. The Foreign Commercial Service closed its office at the Consulate in 2012. In 2013, the Principal Officer took charge of the Consulate’s public diplomacy programs, and its district was redefined to comprise Aichi, Mie, Gifu and Shizuoka prefectures. Because of resource constraints, Consulate General Osaka-Kobe and Embassy Tokyo share responsibility for providing passports, notarials and other consular services for American citizens living in the greater Nagoya area.