The Port of Yokkaichi sits on the shores of Ise Bay in northern Mie Prefecture on Japan’s mainland, Honshu Island. The Port of Yokkaichi is about 36 kilometers southwest of Nagoya and about one hundred kilometers east-northeast of Osaka. In 2005, over 300 thousand people called the Port of Yokkaichi home.
The heart of the Northern Ise Industrial Zone, the rapidly expanding Port of Yokkaichi exports industrial products made in the city and imports raw materials. The Port of Yokkaichi’s manufacturing center was largely built on reclaimed land and includes makers of banko ceramics and porcelain, tea, cement, automatable, textiles, glass, heavy machinery, and computer parts like Yokkaichi Toshiba Electronics’ DRAM.
The historic Port of Yokkaichi grew up around a 15th castle. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period in the late 16th Century, the Port of Yokkaichi was developed, and the city opened a market on the 4th, 14th, and 24th of each month (which is how it got its name).
During the Meiji Reformation, the Port of Yokkaichi made great progress, largely due to the efforts of a local merchant who wanted to increase trade by improving the port facilities. The project took 12 years to finish because of financial problems and typhoons.
In 1870, liner service began between the Port of Yokkaichi and Tokyo. Construction began in 1872, and the old Yokkaichi Port was finished in 1884. The Port of Yokkaichi was designated an open International Port in 1899, and foreign trade began. At that time, the major cargoes were seed oil, Ise tea, and Banko ceramics.
In 1902, the Port of Yokkaichi began to import ginned cotton for its local textile industry, and the first wool-carrying vessel arrived from Australia in 1932.
During World War II, the Port of Yokkaichi was seriously damaged by Allied bombs. After the war, a big petrochemical complex was established there. In 1952, the Port of Yokkaichi was designated an Important Port.
The Port of Yokkaichi’s first full-scale petrochemical operation began operating. Unfortunately, the port was seriously damaged by the Ise Bay Typhoon that same year. In 1963, the second full-scale petrochemical complex was opened. Throughout the 1960s, high emissions of sulfur oxides came from local chemical plants. The disease Yokkaichi zensoiku, or Yokkaichi asthma, is one of Japan’s four biggest diseases resulting from pollution.
The Yokkaichi Port Authority was established in 1966, and the first container vessels arrived at the Port of Yokkaichi from East Australia in 1969. By 1971, the Yokkaichi Container Berth Company Ltd. was operating. Volume export of passenger vehicles from the Port of Yokkaichi began, and the third full-scale petrochemical complex was opened in 1972.
The Port of Yokkaichi’s Public Container Berth was completed in 1995, and the Yokkaichi Port International Freight Center was constructed in 1996. The same year, the breakwater at the Old Port was recognized as a nationally-important cultural property, as was the Suehiro Bridge in 1998. In 1999, the Port of Yokkaichi proudly celebrated its one hundredth year of operations, and the Yokkaichi Port Building was opened.
In 2002, the Port of Yokkaichi received its first ISO certification. The same year, the volume of container cargo moving through the port surpassed two million tons.