The Port of Tokyo lies at the head of Tokyo Bay on Honshu Island's Pacific coast. It is the biggest industrial and urban area in Japan and one of the major centers of the world economy. Located between the estuaries of the Tamagawa and Arakawa Rivers, the Port of Tokyo is just 14 nautical miles west of the Port of Chiba and about 23 kilometers northeast of the Port of Yokohama. It is also the capital of Japan and home to the Japanese Imperial family and the Imperial Palace. Containing 23 special wards, each of which is governed as a city in itself, the Port of Tokyo is the world's most populous urban areas. In 2005, some 8.5 million people lived in the Port of Tokyo, and the prefecture was home to more than 12 million.
The Port of Tokyo is one of the most important financial centers in the world. According to The Economist's Big Mac Index, the Port of Tokyo's workers earn the highest salaries in the world. That's a good thing, since it is also recognized by many economic think tanks as the most expensive city in the world as well. Despite its great urban population, the Tokyo Prefecture is 35% forest, and it contained almost 8.5 thousand hectares of agricultural lands in 2003. While fish was once a major economic sector, the city gets most of its fish from the outer islands today. The Port of Tokyo also supports a busy and productive tourism industry.
A small fishing village called Edo existed on the site of the modern Port of Tokyo for centuries. Ota Dokan built Edo Castle there in 1457 at the mouth of the Hirakawa River. As early as 1392, many ships were moving in and out of the?Port of Tokyo's harbor, and the Medieval Shinagawa Port bustled with commercial activity. This early port, the forerunner to the modern Port of Tokyo, contributed to the development of marine transportation in Japan.
Tokugawa Ieyasu made the Port of Tokyo/Edo his base, and when he became Shogun in the early 17th Century, Edo became the de facto capital of Japan and the center for the national military government. In 1612, the Tokugawa Shogunate began to rebuild the existing port by adding extensive berths and port facilities.
Throughout the 1600s, the Port of Tokyo grew rapidly, and its population exceeded a million by the beginning of the 1700s. Although Kyoto was home to the Emperor and continued to be the Imperial capital of Japan, Edo (today's Port of Tokyo) was the financial, commercial, and power center for the country.
At this time, the Port of Tokyo was an important distribution point for supplying goods to the residents of Edo, even though the port at Yokohama was the center for international trade. Development of the modern Port of Tokyo did not begin in earnest until the Meiji Period when land reclamation and dredging projects began.
Commodore Perry arrived at Tokyo Bay, and the Shogunate began to build gun batteries at the harbor. In 1858, the U.S.-Japan Amity and Commerce Treaty opened five ports and two cities in Japan to foreign trade and international contact after a long period of isolation.
After over two and a half centuries of military rule, the Tokugawa Shogunate was overthrown, and Imperial rule was restored. Emperor Meiji moved to Edo in 1869, and the Edo Castle became the Imperial Palace. The City of Tokyo was established. The Port of Tokyo was the national capital until the municipality was abolished and merged with the Metropolitan Prefecture of Tokyo in 1943.
In 1880, the prefecture's Governor proposed modern improvements to the Port of Tokyo. The first phase, located at the Sumida River estuary, began operating in 1906.
The Port of Tokyo experienced two significant disasters in the 20th Century. In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake killed about 140 thousand people. The earthquake enhanced the Port of Tokyo's value, as overland transportation had been severely damaged. In 1925, the modern Hinode Terminal was completed. The Shibaura Terminal began operating in 1932, and the Takeshiba Terminal was finished in 1934. In 1941, the Port of Tokyo was proclaimed an international port.
From the time of the Great Kanto Earthquake until World War II, full-scale construction of the Port of Tokyo was undertaken. Completion of the Hinode, Takeshiba, and Shibaura Terminals laid the foundation for the modern Port of Tokyo. Unfortunately, the growth of the port came to a halt when Allied Forces requisitioned the Port of Tokyo after World War II.
In 1945, the city was bombed mercilessly by the Allies, and as many as 200 thousand people were killed while half of the city was destroyed. After World War II, the Port of Tokyo was completely rebuilt and continued to flourish. Allied forces, however, took over the Port of Tokyo.
After the war, redevelopment of the Port of Tokyo as an international trade port was vitally important to post-war reconstruction of Japan and the re-establishment of domestic industry.
In 1950, the Toyosu Coal Terminal began operations, and the Port Law was promulgated by the Japanese government. In 1951, the Port of Tokyo was designated a major port and placed under the administration of the Port of Tokyo's metropolitan government. In 1955, the Harumi Terminal's public Berth No. 1 began operations.
The Shinagawa Container Terminal was completed in 1967, and the first container ship, the Hawaiian Planter, arrived at the Port of Tokyo. At that time, regular container routes were established with the United States' West Coast. Regular container routes were established with Europe in 1971. By 1974, the Cargo Terminal had been completed, and ferry operations were underway at three berths in the Port of Tokyo. By 1975, all eight berths serving the Oi Container Terminal were finished.
In the latter half of the 20th Century, the Port of Tokyo's subway and rail network was one of the world's busiest. A real estate bubble that grew during the 1980s burst early in the 1990s, bringing a major recession to the Port of Tokyo that lasted until the beginning of the 21st Century.
In 1991, the modern Port of Tokyo celebrated its 50th Anniversary, and the Harumi Passenger Ship Terminal opened for business. In 1993, Tokyo Bay's famous landmark, the Rainbow Bridge, was completed. In 1993 and 1994, Berths 2 and 3 of the Aomi Container Terminal went into operation.
In 1995, the Tokyo Waterfront New Transit's Yurikamome line began operations from the Port of Tokyo, and passenger traffic increased rapidly. The same year, the Takeshiba Passenger Ship Terminal was completed. In 1996, increased passenger traffic led to the addition of new trains to the Waterfront Yurikamome rail line to serve the many restaurants, shops, and commercial establishments being built in the Port of Tokyo's waterfront area.
In 2001, the Port of Tokyo celebrated 60 years of operations as a modern port, and a new logo was created to commemorate the port's success. In the first decade of the 21st Century, the Oi Container Terminal has continued to grow with new berths, and the Yurikamome rail line has been extended as far as Toyosu Station. In 2008, the Port of Tokyo was recognized for handling the largest volume of import/export cargo in the nation for nine consecutive years. In 2008, the metropolitan government of the Port of Tokyo entered into a cooperative agreement with Yokohama City and Kawasaki City to jointly promote the area.