I don’t recall exactly how I came across it, but I recently found out about the 2011 book Pacific Gibraltar: US-Japanese Rivalry over the Annexation of Hawaiʻi, 1885-1898 by William Michael Morgan.
The Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, as we all know, was overthrown in 1893, and annexed by the United States five years later, by a unilateral Act of Congress (meaning, without Treaty or any other arrangement or agreement with the government of Hawaiʻi). Meanwhile, Hawaiʻi’s King Kalākaua had visited Japan in 1881, becoming the first reigning foreign head of state to visit Japan of his own volition (King Shô Nei of Ryûkyû had been taken to Japan in 1609 as a hostage). Kalākaua made agreements with the Japanese government to arrange for the beginning of Japanese immigration to Hawaiʻi; the first immigrants arrived in the islands in 1885.
And that’s pretty much all I know about it. I never suspected there was any more connection or involvement, really, between the Japanese government and the overthrow and annexation of Hawaiʻi. But the title of this book would seem to imply that there was actually a rivalry between Washington and Tokyo for control of Hawaiʻi, i.e. that Japan had a lot more involvement in Hawaiʻi at this time than simply sending plantation workers.
Sadly, I know that I’m not going to get a chance to read this book anytime soon. But I’m terribly curious to do so, to learn more about Japan-Hawaiʻi relations, and about the overthrow and annexation of the kingdom.