West Virginia University Historical Review


This paper examines economic aggression from the Japanese fishing fleet beginning in 1936 and the response from organized labor in America prior to the famous attack on Pearl Harbor. The focus of this is research is primarily from the perspective of American labor, drawing heavily on the Voice of the Federation newspaper, which was a publication owned by the Maritime Federation of the Pacific. The US government was aware of encroachment of Japanese floating canneries in 1936, but took little action against Japan in order to avoid worsening tensions between the two nations. However, in 1937 Harry Stuhr, the head of the Alaskan Fisherman’s Union, observed and photographed the Japanese vessel named the Taiyo Maru and encouraged organized labor to petition Congress, institute a boycott on Japanese goods, and instigated anti-Japanese sentiment across the US. The result would be the exacerbation of racial stereotypes against the Japanese, increased public fears of war, and eventually the establishment of international conservation zones.

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