The Port of Osaka is the capital of the Osaka urban prefecture and part of the second biggest urban/industrial zone in Japan. Located in the south-central area of Japan's main island, Honshu, the Port of Osaka lies at the head of Osaka Bay on the delta of the Yodo River, but the city extends to the Yodo, Yamato, and other rivers as well. The Port of Osaka is about 20 nautical miles across Osaka Bay southeast of the Port of Kobe, and it is about 290 kilometers east-northeast of the Port of Hiroshima. In 2005, over 2.6 million people lived in the Port of Osaka. The Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area, called Keihanshin, is home to more than 18.6 million people.
The Port of Osaka is the historic commercial center of Japan. Most of the major financial companies have moved to Tokyo, yet the Port of Osaka is still home to headquarters for some world-class corporations including Panasonic and Sharp. Today, the Port of Osaka's major industries produce textiles, machinery, iron and steel, metal products, electric machinery, chemicals, and pulp and paper. Other important industries include food processing, printing, and publishing. The Port of Osaka is still one of the largest financial centers in Japan. Some one million people commute into the city each day. The Port of Osaka is one of the most important seaports in Japan, and it has been administratively combined with the Port of Kobe since the early 1970s. Osaka is said to be one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Archaeologists have found evidence in shell mounds in the area of the Port of Osaka containing sea oysters and human skeletons that date from the 5th and 6th Centuries BC. During the Yayoi period from 500 to 300 BC, rice farming became popular, and people established permanent habitation on the plains.
By the Kofun period from the mid-3rd Century to the mid-6th Century, the Port of Osaka was a maritime center connecting eastern Japan to the western regions. The large number and greater size of tomb mounds in the plains of the Port of Osaka testify to the areas ancient political power.
Emperor Kotoku had his palace built in the Port of Osaka in 645 AD, establishing the area as his capital. Called Naniwa at the time, the Port of Osaka continued to be an important connection between Japan and Korea and China, even after the capital was moved to Asuka in 655.
Emperor Shomu made Naniwa his capital for a brief time in the mid-8th Century. Although the Port of Osaka's function as a seaport for eastern Japan was overtaken by nearby areas, it continued to be a busy hub for transportation by land and water for ancient Kyoto (called Heian-kyo) through the 15th Century.
The Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect established their headquarters on the site of the old Port of Osaka Imperial palace in 1496. In 1570, the temple was besieged by Oda Nobunaga. After ten years, the monks surrendered, and their temple was destroyed.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Osaka Castle on the ruins of the Buddhist temple. After that event, the Port of Osaka became a major economic center for the country, and many merchants lived near the castle.
During the Edo period from the early 17th to middle 19th Centuries, the Port of Osaka grew to become one of Japan's most important cities, and its seaport once again played a central role in maritime commerce. Like other major cities like Kyoto and Edo, the Port of Osaka developed a sophisticated cultural life that included bunraku and kabuki productions, pleasure quarters, and an active art community.
A low-ranking samurai, Oshio Heihachiro, led a peasant rebellion in 1837 because the Port of Osaka government offered no help to poor families. Before officials could quell the rebellion, almost one-fourth of the city was destroyed. Oshio killed himself after the defeat.
The Port of Osaka and the Port of Kobe were opened to foreign trade in 1868 as the Tokugawa Shogunate dissolved. The modern Port of Osaka was created by law in 1889.
The Osaka Municipal Government assumed port administration in 1887, and it provided significant funds to modernize the Port of Osaka because it recognized how important the port was to the local economy. That year, the Chikko Port Office was established with seven departments under its control. When construction of new port facilities neared completion, the construction agency managed the port until it was replaced by the Port and Harbor Department in 1911.
During World War I, the shipping industry boomed, and traffic through the Port of Osaka increased greatly. The Osaka Port and Harbor Division was organized, and the workforce was expanded to keep pace with continuing port development. During the era of Japan's Pacific War from 1930 to 1945, the former Port of Osaka division became the more prestigious and powerful Osaka Port and Harbor Bureau.
Port of Osaka facilities were heavily damaged as World War II drew to an end. Fewer cargo vessels called at the Port of Osaka, and port construction virtually ended. The Osaka Port and Harbor Bureau was downgraded to a department in 1946.
Despite the slowdowns in the Port of Osaka resulting from World War II, the Osaka Port Reconstruction Plan was published in 1947 and construction began. The Osaka Port and Harbor Bureau was reinstated and expanded to contain three divisions and 13 sections. The Bureau was reorganized again in 1951.
In early 1952, the Osaka Municipal Government assumed control of the Port of Osaka. A construction division was established in 1958 when the Nanko Waterfront Construction Site was created. In 1965, the construction division was brought into the Port of Osaka's Waterfront Development Department. When the Nanko Merchant Port Plan was published in 1967, the Waterfront Development Department was expanded as the Nanko Development Department.
By the early 1980s, the need for a comprehensive development plan for the Port of Osaka was clear. The plan covered reclaimed lands in the Hokko and Nanko areas, and the Port and Harbor Bureau was reorganized once again to contain three new divisions for administration, comprehensive planning, and construction.
In 2005, the Bureau underwent another reorganization to include three divisions and nine departments organized around the Port of Osaka's administration, planning, promotion, construction, financial management, and waterfront development. The purpose of the reorganization was to assure efficient repair and maintenance of port facilities, to apply modern business management principles to port operations, to strengthen disaster prevention measures, and to re-energize the waterfront areas in the Port of Osaka.