“A Transpacific Airport in Japan
“The Japanese Ministry of Air is so confident that transpacific flying will speedily develop that it is now busily engaged in establishing an air customs office at the new international airport at Haneda. This town lies about halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama. Construction on this new port was started in 1921, and it is now rapidly nearing completion.
“… This new airport covers 130 acres, of which about 50 are paved and eight more are covered with turf. Because of Japan’s annual rainy season a paved runway is essential. One of the features of the airfield is a river emptying into the ocean, which officials have equipped with a landing stage for seaplanes.”
– Flying Magazine, November 1931
“Before the construction of Haneda Airport, aviators in Tokyo used various beaches of Tokyo Bay as airstrips, including beaches near the current site of Haneda. In 1930, the Japanese postal ministry purchased a 130-acre portion of waterfront land from a private individual in order to construct an aerodrome. Haneda Airfield first opened in 1931. It was Japan’s largest civil airport at the time it was constructed, and took over from the Imperial Army air base at Tachikawa, far west of the city, that had been the main operating base of Japan Air Transport, then the country’s flag carrier. The first flight from the new airport on August 25, 1931 carried cargo to Dalian (Port Arthur), Manchuria.
“During the 1930s, Haneda handled flights to destinations in Japan, Korea, and Manchuria. The major Japanese newspapers also built their first flight departments at Haneda during this time, and Manchukuo National Airways began service between Haneda and Hsinking. JATC was renamed Imperial Japanese Airways following its nationalization in 1938. Passenger and freight traffic grew dramatically in these early years. In 1939, Haneda’s first runway was extended to 800 metres (2,600 ft) in length and a second 800-metre (2,600 ft) runway was completed.
“In the late 1930s the Tokyo government also begin planning for a new Tokyo International Airport, to be constructed on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. The new airport would have been five times the size of Haneda, and significantly larger than Tempelhof Airport in Berlin – said to be the largest airport in the world at the time. The airport plan was finalized in 1938 and work on the island began in 1939 for completion in 1941, but the project fell behind schedule due to resource constraints brought on by the Pacific War. The plan was officially abandoned following the war; Allied Occupation authorities favored expanding the existing Haneda airfield rather than build a new airport.”