chapter  4
12 Pages

The League of Nations, Washington and internationalism in East Asia: With special reference to the League’s attempt to control opium


The establishment of the OAC International efforts to eradicate opium smoking started at the beginning of the twentieth century. The first international commission was held, arising out of an American initiative, in Shanghai in 1909. The United States took the initiative partly because from its perspective opium control would not harm its interests. For example, when the first US-Japan commercial treaty was signed in 1858, it contained a provision that limited the importation of opium into Japan to a minimal amount (four pounds per year). Thanks in part to this treaty, opium smoking never became a serious problem in Japan. The United States also signed a similar treaty with China in 1880, and did not bring opium into the latter after that date. Following the colonization of the Philippines in 1898, the United States tried to implement more enlightened colonial rule than the European colonial powers, and thus banned opium smoking in the archipelago.4