In mediating the human experience of space, communications technologies played an important role along with means of transportation. When wireless telegraphy was introduced to Japan around the turn of the twentieth century, it was not just the military that made successful use of the incipient technology. The adoption of shipboard wireless telegraphy in trans-Pacific navigation helped reshape the Japanese spatial experience of the world’s largest ocean, thanks to extensive coverage by Japanese newspapers. However, technology never marches forward in a straight line as many published histories of wireless telegraphy suggest. The lack of inter-continental wireless telegraphy contributed to communication congestion across the Pacific during World War I, forcing the Japanese government to relax its monopoly while the Japanese business community abandoned its endeavor to build new trans-Pacific submarine cables in favor of wireless telegraphy. By the early 1930s, this public-private partnership enabled Japan to become a major player in international wireless telegraphy which dominated trans-Pacific communication. This article demonstrates that space and technology became mutually constitutive so that the Pacific Ocean could best be described as a single spatial-technological construct.

This content is only available via PDF.