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THE WEST COASTS' LEAST KNOWN AND MOST MISREPRESENTED MINORITY: An Account of the Life and Problems of the Japanese Emigrants and their American Children on the Pacific Coast of the United States Prior to World War II.


Chapter I
Early Voyages From Japan to the New World

In August of 1610, 10 years before the Mayflower crossed the Atlantic Ocean to deposit the Pilgrims on the northern part of the east coast of North America, the first Japanese ship known to have crossed the considerably wider Pacific Ocean reached the Mexican port of Acapulco on the southern part of the west coast of North America. The voyage was part of a plan to establish direct trade between New Spain, or Mexico, and Japan. The ship carried, in addition to 23 Japanese merchants under the leadership of 2 Japanese noblemen, the Spanish Governor of the Philippines, Don Rodrlgo de Tevero, who had been shipwrecked in Japanese waters and entertained by the Shogun while a ship suitable for the long and hazardous voyage was being constructed.

During the months of their stay in Mexico City, the merchants learned what they could of western practices and methods of conducting life and business and one of the nobles was baptised a Roman Catholic with the name of Francisco Yelasco. He took at baptism the family name of the Viceroy, who stood his sponsor. The ship carried the Japanese safely back to Japan.

In 1613 another Japanese ship took a larger number of Japanese, delegates from a Christian colony, to Acapulco, whence they proceeded to Mexico City for confirmation. Some of them were taken to Spain to be presented at court; the rest awaited the return of their friends in Mexico for a period of 2 years. Some members of this group of Christian Japanese, possibly a dozen, chose to remain in Mexico when the ship returned to Japan. It seems probable that those few Japanese who reached the New World in 1613 and decided to stay were the first Japanese immigrants to America. No more is known of them, a fact that suggests their successful assimilation into the life and culture of Mexico with consequent loss of racial identity.*

It has been pointed out that Japan, for a period of more than a century and a half after these two voyages had been successfully accomplished, had a golden opportunity to take over California. It was 1769 before the Spanish fathers established the first mission In Alta

*This whole interesting period that preceded Japan's voluntary withdrawal from the world is treated in detail and from official documents of both Japan and Mexico in Zelia Nutthall's The Earliest Historical Relations between Mexico and Japan, published as Vol. 4, No. 1, in University of California Publications on American Archaeology and Ethnology.


California, at San Diego. Explorers of other nationality had not yet reached the West Coast. However, instead of expanding her empire and utilizing her advantage, Japan in 1638 embraced a policy of strict exclusion and inclusion, forbade the construction of any more seaworthy vessels and destroyed the ones already in existence, and retired from the world until Commodore Perry forced an opening of the country. The self-isolation of Japan was the result of a growing conviction on the part of the early Tokugawa Shoguns over a period of years that the political activities of foreign missionaries--especially the Jesuits-- constituted a menace to the safety of the Sap ire. The immediate occasion of the edict of 1638, however, was an uprising in 1637 of the large Christian colony at Shlmabara. Converts to the Roman Catholic faith numbering 15 or 20 thousand, waving red cross flags and shouting "Jesus, Maria and St. IagoI" gave battle to the Imperial troops. This Incident ended in the wholesale massacre of the militant Christians and convinced the Shogun that Christianity was a menace to national security.* It was 1884 before mass emigration of Japanese nationals was permitted by the Imperial Government, which in that year yielded to the often reiterated pleas of Hawaiian sugar planters for labor.

Thus it was that, historically speaking, the Japanese were late among immigrants to the United States. Prior to 1860, when Japan sent forth her first embassy to the United States, such Japanese as Americans had seen had been a few castaways who had been picked up in midocean by western ships and brought to America--usually to California--until passage to Japan could be arranged for them. The rescued were not too eager to return to their native country, for they knew that they stood a good chance of losing their heads for having visited a Christian country, however blameless they might have been of intent to do so.

The Americans viewed these castaways with friendly curiosity, and, in the days when the United States was becoming aware of the need of a fueling station in Japan, certain politicians saw in the rescued mariners a potential wedge to open Japan to trade. Thus it happened that the few Japanese who reached our shores before diplomatic relations were established between Japan and the United States were petted and exhibited and made much of. Commodore Perry's interpreter on the expedition to force the opening of Japan owed his knowledge of the Japanese language to a castaway named Sentaro, who was a member of the expedition. A child castaway, Hikozo Hamada, was a protege" of the collector of customs at San Francisco and also the latter's patron, Senator Qwin, of California. Young Hikozo was taken to Washington and introduced to President Pierce, who offered him an appointment to West

*The Nutthall study covers this situation in detail; it is briefly treated in "How Japan Lost her Chance in the Pacific," by George Kennan, in The Outlook, June 27, 1914, Vol. 107, No. 9, pp. 489-493.


Point. Hikoso refused the appointment, preferring to attend the Catholic University in Maryland. Shortly before he was 18, Hikozo was naturalized as an American citizen in Baltimore, having previously been baptised in the Roman Catholic faith with the name of Joseph Heco. At that time--June 30, 1858, was the day of Heco's naturalization--America was loss sensitive than in later years to gradations in skin color, and in scattered instances individuals of oriental race who applied for naturalization were granted it.

Aside from members of the embassies that came and went during the sixties, there appeared in California toward the end of that decade two small colonies of Japanese. One was composed of possibly a dozen farmers--the newspapers of the time were in disagreement as to the number--and settled on land purchased at Gold Hill, not far from Sacramento, A Dutch adventurer who was a naturalized Japanese citizen and married to a Japanese woman had smuggled this little group of farmers out of Japan to help him make a fortune out of a tea and silk venture in the Sacramento Valley. Fortune was against him--and perhaps he was too far from his base of supplies. After a year or so, he returned to Japan presumably to get more plants and to raise more funds. He did not return. There was a later report that he had been executed in Japan, doubtless for having broken the inclusion law. The destitute Gold Hill farmers appealed to Charles W. Brooks, then the honorary consular agent at San Francisco, and through his efforts found work in American families.1*

The other colony was composed of a small group of Japanese intellectuals and liberals. Some of them had been members of various embassies; one was a former governor of Yedo (Tokyo). All of them, according to a contemporary report in the San Francisco Chronicle, were "gentlemen of refinement and influence in their own country, from which they were compelled to flee, almost destitute, because their travel in civilized countries had made them too liberal in their ideas to suit the Mikado. These Japanese gentlemen, who speak English and French, offered to work for nothing for a year with any gentlemen who would learn them a useful occupation, but could get none to accept their services. By the advice of Mr. Van Reed they leased a farm in Alameda county, and hired a few intelligent white men to instruct them."2

Until 1884, California, so shortly to become a seething caldron of anti-Japanese prejudice, had very few Japanese of any description. After 1871 the Emperor had encouraged the youth of the gentry to travel and study in the western world, and a number of Japanese students appeared on the American scene. The more prosperous of these tended to go to the more impressive and longer established eastern universities;

*Numbered references are listed at end of report.


the impoverished stopped off in California to work their way through such young and obscure institutions of higher learning as they could find close to their port of entry. The Japanese consul in San Francisco reported in 1884, just prior to the authorization of general emigration by Japan, that there were 80 Japanese in California.

To summarize: until general emigration of the masses got underway, with the exception of the farmers of Cold Hill, the Japanese in California were of the educated and upper classes. It is apparent that the press and the bulk of the population were kindly disposed toward these strangers in their midst.


Chapter II
The Immigrant Generation and the California Racists

The friendly reception accorded the few Japanese who reached the United States before general emigration was authorized by the Japanese Government was scarcely indicative of what awaited the bona fide immigrants of later years in the land of their choice. These newcomers were predestined to trouble by the location of their port of entry to the new world, by the timing of their arrival, and above all by the fact that they were of oriental race. It is true that for a few years after 1884 the Immigrants from Japan passed through the Golden Gate almost unnoticed, but that not unpleasant anonymity ended as soon as they began to arrive in considerable number.

It was natural enough that general emigration from Japan should have been slow to gather momentum. In Japan the initiative required to uproot oneself from the familiar, and undertake life and work in a foreign country halfway around the world, had been somewhat anaesthetized by more than 2 centuries of a rigidly enforced stay-at-home policy. At first only a few resolute and daring individuals took passage for the United States--or elsewhere. These pioneers were conspicuously youthful. For years it was rare to find a Japanese immigrant who was above 30 years of age, and many came to America as teenage boys. These male immigrants came alone. Some of the older ones left wives and children behind. The teen-age boys were single. The average immigrant had his passage and possibly as much as $25 in cash with which to start life in the new world. The immigrants arrived at San Francisco, which consequently developed the first substantial concentration of Japanese. After a year or two of authorized emigration, the strangers were met at the pier by Japanese hotel or boarding house keepers who served also as employment agents to recruit labor for railroads and for agriculture. The young immigrants took whatever work was offered at any wage named because they had to earn a living. They could not afford to be particular or fastidious. They had to sustain life in themselves, and most of them had obligations to dependents or semi-dependents back in Japan. They had to get along as best they could while they were learning the way of life and the language of the new country. Many of them were graduates of the middle schools of Japan, which were comparable to the American high school, and so had had a year or two of English. This required course in English was of about as much practical value to them when they were faced with Americans with various accents as a year or two of high school French would be to Americans who were suddenly dropped into a French village where no one could speak English.

It was not until the pioneers had established themselves in the United States and could write favorable reports of life and working


opportunities to old neighbors and relatives in Japan that the less venturesome Japanese felt disposed to try their luck in the United States. Thus it was 1891 before the annual arrivals of Japanese in the United States exceeded 1,000, and not until 1898 did the number reach the 2,000 mark. Contract labor, which was the basis of emigration from Japan to the Kingdom of Hawaii, was prohibited in the United States by Federal law at the time that mass emigration was permitted, and in 1900, with Hawaii a territory of the United States, contract labor was outlawed in the Islands.

Until after the turn of the century, movements of Japanese to the continental United States were on a small scale. However, in the first decade of the twentieth century, mass migrations reached their peak, dropping sharply after 1908, when the Gentlemen's Agreement to curtail the migration of Japanese nationals to the United States and Hawaii became effective.

The accompanying table serves to establish a picture of the volume of Japanese immigration as it affected the continental United States and its territories during the first decade of this century. The figures were compiled from the annual reports of the United States Commissioner-General of Immigration, 1901-1910.

1901 - 1910

1901 5,249 4,908 3 338
1902 14,455 5,325 5 9,125
1903 20,041 6,990 6 13,045
1904 14,382 7,776 16 6,590
1905 11,021 4,319 10 6,692
1906 14,243 5,178 14 9,051
1907 30,824 9,948 11 20,865
1908 16,418 7,250 15 9,153
1909 3,275 1,593 5 1,679
1910 2,798 1,552 7 1,239
TOTALS* 132,706 54,839 90 77,777
*Japanese sources record the return of 25,536 nationals to Japan in this decade.

At this point in the chapter, it is well to consider the triple handicap under which this immigrant generation took up life under American democracy--or rather under that variant of it which maintained


on the West Coast of the United States---recalling that the handicap was composed of race, place, and time.

In the first place, these people were of oriental race, and they were seeking economic betterment along with the blessings of liberty in a section of the United States which was notoriously hostile to orientals. The pattern of West Coast color prejudice had taken its first crude shape as early as 1846. In that year a gang of greedy and socially irresponsible United States citizens hastened out to California, then Mexican territory, to await its annexation by the United States and to grab what they could in the way of booty when this event transpired. The annexation had been determined by the election of President Polk. These young Americans tired of waiting for the carefully planned bloodless conquest of California and fomented an incident which was known as the Bear Flag Rebellion. On this occasion the rallying cry of "California for the Americans" was first heard. The ill-advised action on the part of the young men converted the plan for peaceful conquest into a long, bloody, and quite unnecessary episode in United States history.3 These aggressive young men, themselves first or second generation Americans for the most part, defined the term American very narrowly. They excluded from the category by definition the Spanish and Mexican Californians, although the Spanish had arrived in the new world somewhat ahead of the Pilgrim Fathers, and the Mexicans were compounded of these Spanish and American Indians who might be considered genuine first families. The Bear Flag insurrectionists were convinced that it was improper for darker skinned people to own land which lighter skinned men--themselves, for instance--might use to advantage.

Up to the discovery of gold in 1848, these white pioneers persecuted the native Californians and the Indians. After the discovery of gold, they persecuted the native Californians, the Indians, the South Americans and the Chinese who by this time had appeared in small numbers. They were tolerant toward the Chinese as long as the latter tended babies, cooked, laundered, and performed other menial tasks that nobody else wanted to bother with, once the lure of the gold fields was felt. However, when some of the hardier Chinese ventured Into the gold fields, their presence coupled with their industry was considered a menace to white supremacy.

One of the first acts of the California legislature was the imposition of an exhorbitant miner's tax levied nominally upon foreigners but collected, after a short time, only from Chinese. The payment of the $30 a month tax by a Chinese gave .him the legal right to grub for gold dust, it did not protect him from the resentment of white rivals in the gold fields. Whenever the heavy-bearded young whites felt hilarious or depressed, they were likely to mob the thriftier Chinese who might have managed to amass a few more ounces of gold dust from poor pickings than their superiors had acquired from better pickings.


In spite of the indignities heaped upon them, the Chinese continued to come to California, and in the sixties their labor built the western half of the first transcontinental railroad, a task which had been offered in turn to every other breed of worker within the United States and promptly rejected by all. Nevertheless, since a depression followed hard on the completion of the railroad, organized labor became retroactively incensed over the fact that the Chinese had done this back-breaking job, and the real persecution began.

The heavily bearded young men who, back in the forties, had persecuted the Mexican and Spanish Californians and then the Chinese gold seekers were by this time fathers or even grandfathers, but their purpose of preserving California for the white race was unwavering, and they had indoctrinated their sons and their daughters with all their prejudices and phobias. Combined with organized labor the pioneers of the forties and the adventurers of the gold rush days made a group for any politician to take seriously. The cry of "The Chinese must go!" echoed from every sand lot and from every political rally. To prove that they meant what they said, the more impetuous staged a few massacres of Chinese. By 1882 these forces had put enough pressure upon the Federal Government to achieve the exclusion of all Chinese immigrants for many years to come and had, by various devices, persuaded a good many of the resident Chinese to ship back to China or at least to move on eastward in the United States.

The zeal of these crusaders had gotten the better of their common sense, since Chinese labor was highly important to the success of California agriculture--and it was rapidly becoming established that California's greater wealth was to be derived from agriculture rather than from the mines. Year by year the resident Chinese labor force dwindled, by departure to other States and by increasing age. As the remaining ones grew older they became less competent, less quick at the important work of harvesting California's varied and valuable crops.

By the time that the Japanese began to arrive in any number, there was a vacuum into which these newest immigrants naturally were sucked. As long as they stayed in the vacuum, they were welcomed even by the racists. However, the Japanese immigrants refused to stay in the vacuum; they began hauling themselves out of it. They were ambitious; they wanted to better themselves. They were willing to take unskilled labor while they were learning the language and the ways of America, but their whole effort was focused upon escaping from the migratory labor gangs to land of their own, either leased or purchased, so that they might import their families and lead a normal American life. California did not approve of this ambition on the part of Japanese immigrants. California farmers resented having their harvest hands suddenly become competing farm operators. This resentment was economic rather than racist in flavor. The out-and-out racists saw in the transition


from day laborer to farm operator another threat to white supremacy. To quote from this writer's California and her Less Favored Minorities [p. 14]:

"The forces that had accomplished the exclusion of the Chinese had developed legends, techniques, and arguments which with little editing could be turned against the Japanese. Politicians and pressure groups served their apprenticeship in the anti-Chinese crusade. By the turn of the century these veterans were ready to launch a new offensive. In the campaign against the Japanese is found the most spectacular manifestation of California's rugged individualism, which Royce labeled 'social irresponsibility.'"

The offensive began in a small way on May 8, 1900: on that night, in the course of a mass meeting called in San Francisco to consolidate pressure for re-enactment of the Chinese exclusion law--then about to expire--it was resolved to urge the adoption of a law to exclude all Japanese except members of the diplomatic staff from the United States. James Phelan, then mayor of San Francisco, later to be in turn Governor of California and United States Senator, played a prominent part at this meeting. In 1901 the California legislature appealed in a joint resolution to Congress to restrict the immigration of Japanese laborers. So persuasive were the legends and fantasies developed by the crusaders, even in 1900, the year when there were only 24,326 Japanese in the entire United States, that an investigator for the United State Industrial Commission was charmed into writing in his report of "great hordes of Japanese coolies who have already secured a monopoly of the labor in the agricultural industries of the Pacific States * * * and are as a class tricky, unreliable and dishonest * * *. The total number of Japanese coolie laborers in California today is greater than the total number of Japanese arrivals shown by the immigration records at all of the United States ports for the last 10 years. How, then, came they among us? This is another Asiatic mystery. The movement, the motives, the coming and going of these stoical, strange Mongolians are as a closed book to the white races. As with the birds of passage, today there may not be one in sight, tomorrow they may be with us in countless thousands!"4

"From 1870 to 1920," wrote Carey McWilliams, "anti-oriental agitation in California was fomented, directed, and financed by the powerful trade-union movement that, from the earliest days, had centered in San Francisco. It is, indeed, remarkable that in a pioneer nonindustrial State a labor movement of such strength had developed that by 1879 it was able, through the Workingmen's Party, to seize control of the State and enact a new, and in some respects quite radical, constitution. The secret


of the success of this early movement lay In the fact that Irish immigrants constituted one fourth of the large foreign-born element in the State. * * *

"Most of the leaders of the anti-oriental movement, in its early phases, were Irish and they were also the leaders of the San Francisco labor movement. * * * These leaders had been quick to realize the possibilities of uniting their notoriously clannish fellow countrymen around a negative issue, namely, 'The Chinese Must Go!' It was the political, rather than the economic aspects of oriental immigration that interested these clever and resourceful leaders. Scientific evidence has always been lacking to prove that oriental immigrants ever actually displaced American workmen in California or that they ever constituted a permanent threat to labor standards in the State. But given the chaotic state of affairs in California in the seventies, no shrewder slogan could have been devised than 'The Chinese Must Go!'"5

The new century had brought new faces and new names to political prominence in San Francisco, and the Union Labor Party had replaced the old Workingmen's Party, which had disappeared in the depression of the nineties. However, the tactics of the early Irish leaders were still effectively employed} anti-oriental sentiment was just as easily exploited in the new twentieth century in reference to the Japanese as it had been in the seventies and eighties against the Chinese. It was inconvenient, perhaps, that the antilabor forces, too, exploited anti-Japanese sentiment in the municipal election of 1901, but the Union Labor Party, strengthened by the recent formation of the State Federation of Labor and by an impressive teamster's strike, defeated Mayor Phelan at the polls and elected Eugene E. Schmitz mayor of San Francisco. Of Mayor Schmitz, Carey McWilliams wrote:

* * * Formerly a bassoon player in a San Francisco orchestra, Schmitz was the henchman of Abe Ruef, an exceedingly able and corrupt politician. In the years following the victory of the Union Labor Party, San Francisco wallowed in corruption. * * * Although he had been reelected as mayor of San Francisco, Schmitz was facing indictment in 1906 for his many crimes. Hard pressed for an effective diversionary issue, Schmitz and Ruef saw an opportunity to save themselves by whipping up a Japanese pogrom."?5a

Early in 1905 the victory of Japan over Russia gave impetus to the offensive of the California anti-Japanese crusade. Japan had demonstrated to the world that a small group of Asiatic islands was in


process of becoming a world power. From that time on, the anti-Japanese forces of the West Coast found it helpful to their cause to associate the growing racial minority in the United States with the rise of Japanese nationalism, to identify the hard-working, law-abiding immigrants on this side of the Pacific with Japanese militarists and jingoists on the other side of the Pacific. They began weaving into the elaborate design of their propaganda colorful threads to suggest a Japanese plot to effect a peaceful conquest of California by means of extensive colonization--and prodigious propagation.

On February 23 of 1905 the San Francisco Chronicle inaugurated the first press campaign against the resident Japanese with a series of scare stories. It has suggested that "the owner of the Chronicle, M. H. Deloung, had been a candidate for the United States Senate a few years previously and some observers construed these vicious articles as a renewal of his candidacy."5b By March 1 the State legislature responded to these articles with a resolution, passed unanimously by both houses, demanding immediate congressional action to stop further immigration of Japanese laborers.

By June the anti-Japanese forces of the State had consolidated their strength by organizing the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League, in San Francisco. The formation of the league was promoted by the Union Labor Party, many of whose members were also members of the powerful bulwark of race prejudice known as the Native Sons of the Golden West. Carey McWilliams offered in Prejudice a partial list of prominent leaders of the anti-Japanese agitation. All of those named were members, most of them officials, of the Native Sons of the Golden West and political figures in the State. The list included Hiram Warren Johnson, who was Governor of California from 1911 to 1915 and United States Senator from California from 1917 until his death in 1945} James D. Phelan, also a Governor of California and a United States Senator; U. S. Webb, for some years State attorney general, co-author of the Alien Land Law of 1913--with Francis J. Heney--and zealous instigator of escheat proceedings against Japanese land owners; V. S. McClatchy, editor and publisher of the McClatchy Bee papers of Sacramento, Fresno, and Modesto, and the guiding light of the anti-oriental group for his entire life; J. M. Inman, State senator and at one time president of the California Oriental Exclusion League; Eugene E. Schmitz, Mayor of San Francisco and, with Abe Ruef, instigator of the move to segregate Japanese school children in San Francisco in 1906; Abe Ruef, powerful and corrupt political boss--in 1908 he was tried and convicted of bribery, with Hiram Johnson as prosecutor after Francis J. Heney, the first prosecuting attorney, had been shot down in court by one of Ruef's henchmen;* Aaron

*These details are included in the biographical sketch of Hiram Johnson in Who's Who in America, 1940-1941, p. 1400.


Altaian, president of the San Francisco School Board in 1906 and Abe Ruef's brother-in-law--a fact that sheds some light on the exclusion of Japanese school children from the public schools at a time when Ruef and the Mayor were facing prosecution and so were desperate for a "diversionary issue;" James L. Gallagher, another member of the San Francisco School Board in 1906; and Anthony Caminetti, formerly a State senator and subsequently, in 1913* United States Commissioner-General of Immigration.5c

In 1908, the year when the Gentlemen's Agreement went into effect, the Exclusion League met in its first annual convention at Seattle. By this time it had spread its membership over most of the Western States; California alone had 110,000 members.

The Gentlemen's Agreement, since it placed the responsibility for limiting immigration with the Japanese Government instead of with the United States, was violently protested by the exclusion league. Under the terms of this unwritten agreement entered upon by the Theodore Roosevelt administration and the Japanese Government, Japan agreed to issue passports only to nonlaborers, with the exception of those laborers who had established residence in America and wished to return there, and to the immediate families of such laborers. Japan voluntarily extended the terms to cover Mexico and Canada. In 1907 President Roosevelt had prohibited the admission of Japanese holding passports to Hawaii, Canada or Mexico. For the 16 years of its official life, the Gentlemen's Agreement was vociferously denounced by the exclusionists on the grounds that Japan failed to administer it in good faith. Conclusive evidence to the contrary was not forthcoming until after exclusion had become a fact, in 1924*

In 1909 the California legislature considered a bill to prohibit purchase of land by Japanese aliens, but President Taft intervened and the bill was dropped. In that same year the legislature instructed the State commissioner of labor to conduct an investigation of Japanese labor in California and make a formal report of his findings. By this time the crusaders against the Japanese had convinced themselves of the truth of their own fabrications; consequently when the commissioner of labor presented a careful and objective report which stated among other things that the Japanese were valuable to California agriculture, the legislature formally disapproved of and buried the report--because the commissioner's findings did not support the contentions of the legislators.

The year 1910 found all three political parties in the California general elections with anti-Japanese planks in their platforms. In 1913, although Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan hurried out to California in an attempt to dissuade the legislators from their course, the State legislature passed the first California alien land act, which


made it illegal for aliens ineligible to citizenship to buy agricultural land or to lease it for a period exceeding 3 years.

During the war years, from 191A to 1918, the racists were restrained by injunctions from Washington from crusading with any effectiveness. Not only was Japan an ally of the United States but there was also need for the exercise of Japanese farming talent in California. No sooner was the armistice signed, however, than the lid blew off and the crusaders boiled over. An initiative land law of 1920 tightened the old law in three respects: (1) it forbade the leasing of land by Japanese aliens altogether; (2) it deprived them of the right to purchase stock in any organization which owned or leased agricultural land--the law of 1913 had- permitted them to own stock as long as the total holdings of the Japanese did not exceed 49 percent of the whole, and, (3) it prohibited aliens from being appointed guardians of minor children whose estate consisted of real property--this because it had been discovered that some Japanese aliens were buying land in the name of their citizen children. In 1923 the land law was amended to prohibit Japanese aliens from entering share cropping contracts--for the vigilant anti-Japanese element had discovered that the Japanese were farming land in return for a share of the crops raised.

In 1925 the legislature passed a concurrent resolution urging investigation of alleged Infractions of the alien land acts. The cases were instigated by State Attorney General U. S. Webb, who had co-authored the restrictive statutes and who was at this time a permanent member of the California Joint Immigration Commission, which had been organized to campaign for Federal legislation to exclude the Japanese from the United States. Elliott Grinnell Hears, in his preliminary report prepared for the July 1927 conference of the Institute of Pacific Relations, in Honolulu, said of this organization:

"The most powerful single group in California * * * is the California Joint Immigration Committee, successor to the defunct exclusion leagues, whose Executive Secretary and driving force, Mr. V. S. McClatchy, was formerly Director of the Associated Press, when he was editor and owner of the Sacramento Bee. Largely the initiative and publicity skill of Mr. McClatchy had been responsible for the legislative acts against the Japanese since the World War. The Committee consists of the Deputy-Adjutant of the American Legion, the Secretary-Treasurer of the State Federation of Labor, Master of the State Grange, Grand President of the Native Sons of the Golden West, the State Attorney General, and V. S. McClatchy."

There can be little doubt that the persuasive and deceptively authoritative-sounding fantasies of Mr. McClatchy were instrumental in


persuading a sufficient number of Congressmen and Senators that they were justified in accepting the immigration bill of 1924 with its rider which excluded the Japanese. A "skeleton brief," in which the bones were well padded with ingenious fictions was prepared by Mr. McClatchy, filed with the secretary of state, and presented to the Senate by Senator Hiram Johnson, of California, on July 27, 1921, (Senate Document No. 55, 67th Congress, 1st Session.) The skeleton brief rested the case for excluding the Japanese on falsifications of the volume of Japanese population in California, the Japanese birth rate in California, the alleged failure of Japan to observe in good faith the terms of the Gentlemen's Agreement, and the excessive number and acreage of Japanese freeholds and leaseholds in the State.

In 1917 Japan and Korea had been excepted from the "barred zoning" clause of the immigration act of that year. Japan was protected at that time by the Gentlemen's Agreement and by the fact that she was an ally of the United States in the war. The Immigration Act of 1924, however, annulled the Gentlemen's Agreement by denying admission to the United States of all immigrants ineligible to citizenship and including in that category Mongolians, Polynesians and races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere--in other words, all Indians of South America and Mexico,

After using its influence to achieve the Federal measure of 1924, the joint immigration commission continued in existence to make sure that the exclusion measure against the Japanese was retained. In spite of the commission's efforts, toward the end of the twenties and up to 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria, favorable consideration was being given the matter of extending the quota to Japan. It was in this period that the anti-Japanese forces of the West Coast developed their theses on the subject of Japanese language schools and the evils of dual citizenship. It was in this period that the Nisei, or citizen generation of Japanese Americans, began to come of age. It is true that not many of them were yet of an age to vote, but the fact that some were beginning to vote and that there would be more with each passing year pointed to the feet that the Japanese minority was developing a voice and voting power and hence would not make such a convenient political football in the years to come. Unable to deprive the American-born children of the Japanese immigrants of their citizenship without first changing the Constitution of the United States, the racists made every attempt to discredit the citizenship of the Nisei. It must be said that they were remarkably successful in undermining public and official confidence in the loyalty of the Nisei to the country of their birth. The racist arguments were highly articulated and widely publicized, and the voice of the racists was much more penetrating than the voice of the people of good will who were in a position to refute those arguments. It is improbable that the fulness of their success was realized even by the racists themselves--until the United States entered World War II.


Chapter III
The Population Myth

The earliest myth developed by the racists to stir up anti-Japanese sentiment in California was the one revolving about the number of Japanese immigrants coming into the country--both before and after the Gentlemen's Agreement went into effect. The pressure groups never allowed themselves to be persuaded that the Gentlemen's Agreement was an effective curb on immigration. A circumstance that played into the hands of the agitators was the variation in methods employed by the Census Bureau and by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in listing statistics.

In 1901, the year in which the State Government of California made its first official anti-Japanese move, the Commissioner-General of Immigration began to lump immigration figures relating to the continental United States together with those relating to its territories. The Census Bureau continued to distinguish between the States and the Territories, Obviously there was a startling discrepancy between figures given in the Commissioner-General's tables and those quoted by the Bureau of the Census. Even scholars were misled, for there was nothing to indicate that the term "United States" as used in the reports of the Commissioner-General of Immigration, meant the United States together with the Territories of Hawaii and Alaska. An indefatigable research worker might have discovered a set of figures headed "Declared Destination Hawaii," and might then have subtracted those figures from the total, but for some years none of the writers on the Japanese question seems to have pursued the matter to such lengths. Certainly West Coast politicians and agitators, eager to substantiate their assertions that invading hordes of Japanese were about to crowd the white race from the Golden West, were not interested in seeking a reasonable explanation for the discrepancy and risk destruction of their thesis. A glance at the table on page 8 suggests how much better the lumped figures served anti-Japanese interests than could the broken down figures.

Another practice of the Commissioner-General of Immigration, begun.in 1907, added to the confusion of the lay mind; this was the practice of differentiating between immigrant and nonimmigrant aliens and also between emigrant and nonemmigrant aliens. Nonimmigrants and nonemmigrants are people who enter or leave the country for business or pleasure temporarily, so that their movements are not presumed to have any permanent effect on population. This being the case, immigration reports did not use figures for nonimmigrant admissions and for non-emigrant departures in the tabulation of ordinary arrivals and departures.


The figures in the table on page 8, beginning in 1907, do not include nonimmigrant entries to the country. Although most writers were actually unaware that the figures which they quoted from the immigration reports combined Hawaiian immigration totals with those of the continental United States in the first decade of the twentieth century, certain writers discovered a separate listing of 4,336 arrivals of nonimmigrants and were careful to add that figure to the lumped total of 132,706, thus achieving the impressive number of 137,042 Japanese immigrants who were supposed to have come to the continental United States in the first 10 years of the century. Other writers on the subject, without intent to support current misconceptions, simply stopped at the first table which seemed to answer their needs and quoted the figures so erroneous in their implications. Whether they chose the figure 132,706 or the figure 137,042, there was a confounding discrepancy between the number of Japanese such writers decided should be in the United States proper and the number actually discovered by the census enumerators in 1910--which was 72,157, including 4,502 native-born citizen children.

It is important to remember that the first decade of this century was a highly significant period in the history of the Japanese in the United States: in the first place, this decade witnessed the rise of anti-Japanese agitation on the West Coast; in the second place, it produced the first curtailment of Japanese immigration as effected by the Gentlemen's Agreement in conjunction with the Presidential Proclamation of 1907, which refused admission to the continental United States to Japanese immigrants bearing passports to Hawaii, Canada or Mexico. The confusion arising from conflicting population statistics gave credence to a number of fantasies which were useful in drumming up support for the first alien land act of California.

By the time that the 1920 census figures were available, agitation against the Japanese in California was at its pre-World War II height. The initiative measure which tightened up the Alien Land Law of 1913 had been made law, and the anti-Japanese forces were rallying to push through Congress the Federal exclusion law. Nothing could have been more convenient for the agitators than the continued unexplained variation in the practice of treating statistics for Hawaii.

On June 19, 1920, the report of the California State Board of Control on the Japanese in California was issued and presented by Governor Stephens to Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. This report, factual and objective in many of its parts, was an important document in the history of the exclusion movement. Unquestionably it shaped the opinion of many men who were in a position to enact their opinions into law. It is significant, therefore, that the board had fallen into the customary error when it made its estimate of the Japanese population of California as of 1920, The board became somewhat enmeshed in misleading


statistics concerning immigration under the Gentlemen's Agreement, but it became hopelessly entangled when it sought to determine the actual resident Japanese population of California. It arrived at the number 87,279 as of December 31, 1919, whereas the Census found only 70,196.

The first determined effort to wring sense from contradictory sets of statistics about Japanese immigration and population was made by Dr. Sidney L. Gulick, in an article that appeared in the January 1921 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Dr. Gulick analyzed the State Board of Control's report and pointed out the errors which it contained. He was the first to explain clearly the different methods employed by Immigration Commission and Census Bureau in recording statistics for continental United States and its territories; he was the first to suggest that it was well to disregard the categories of those leaving or entering the country if one wished to get at the true facts of movements. His discoveries seem to have been ignored at the very time when they might have shed light upon the antidemocratic activities of the racists and prevented a shabby piece of Federal legislation.

As it was, Dr. Gulick's explanation passed unnoticed; Washington accepted as accurate the figures offered by the State Board of Control, and further immigration of Japanese was prohibited. It was not until 1929, 5 years after exclusion became a fact, that a full and logical explanation of the baffling figures and discrepancies was presented to the public. This explanation was the work of Dr. Romanzo C. Adams, of the University of Hawaii. His article "Japanese Migration Statistics" appeared in The Journal of Sociology and Social Research for May-June 1929. Dr. Adams wrote:

"According to the 1910 census there were 67,655 foreign born Japanese in the United States and the reports of the Commissioner-General of Immigration showed an excess of 67,109 admissions of alien Japanese immigrants over departures of alien Japanese emigrants in the ten years ending June 30, 1920. This excess was for both Continental United States and Hawaii, but there was no specific mention of Hawaii and it was natural that casual mainland investigators familiar with census practice should assume that the excess was for Continental United States*

"Allowing for an ordinary death rate, age considered, it appeared that the 1920 census should show approximately 127,000 foreign born Japanese in Continental United States. The actual census figures were 81,358--an apparent discrepancy of over 45,000


"Considering the existing state of public opinion and suspicion, this was a serious matter. There was much fear that the Japanese were becoming so numerous as to jeopardize the interests of the White Race. It was charged that the Gentlemen's Agreement was ineffective and even that its express terms were being violated in an important degree. A picture of a horde of Japanese supplanting Americans was in the minds of many people and the Immigration statistics were quoted in support of doctrines based on such fears. The more reassuring figures of the census were discounted by the theory that many Japanese had evaded the census agents in order to conceal their true numbers."

The lumping of figures for Hawaii and the continental United States by the Immigration Commission was a simple matter to grasp. The second source of error, involving "the classification of travellers and the classificatory terms and also the procedure through which the statistical data are secured," was far from simple. It began with the fact that nonemmigrants and nonimmigrants were not counted, since their movement was not supposed to have any permanent effect upon the population.

As Dr. Adams indicated, if all actual emigrants and immigrants were properly classified, this practice would be legitimate, but since emigrants were rarely classified as such--with regard to Japanese leaving the United States for Japan--the practice was very misleading. His investigations led him to the discovery that about five-sixths of all Japanese going to Japan from the continental United States and more than nine-tenths going to Japan from Hawaii were classified as nonemmigrants. Bona fide nonemmigrants were those who visited Japan with a definite expectation of returning to America. The vast majority, however, returned to Japan without being at all sure whether they would stay there or return to America. If they said in America that they expected to remain in Japan, they lost the privileges of the legal residence which they had established in America and with them the right to return; in other words, they burned their bridges behind them. On the other hand, if they said they were going to Japan for a visit, they were classified as nonemmigrants and retained the privilege of returning if they found conditions in Japan unfavorable. Many of these aliens took their citizen children with them, of course, and in that event the citizen children were classified with American citizens travelling abroad--with no indication of race, this being the practice of the immigration authorities. Since the figures for nonemmigrants and citizens leaving the country were excluded from the tables of immigration and emigration, there was naturally a very imperfect picture of actual movements into and out of the country of the people of Japanese race. While a number of these uncertain travellers did come back to the United States to


live, a large number of them found that they could adjust to Japanese life and accordingly remained in Japan, keeping their citizen children with them. This latter group of aliens together with their citizen children were thus misclassified and were not included in the count of emigrants. According to Dr. Adams, the error due to this misclassification for the period of 1911 to 1920 was about 24,000 for the continental United States and about 17,000 for Hawaii.

Dr. Adams was painstakingly thorough. He checked statistics from all sources, Japanese, Hawaiian, the United States Census and the United States Immigration Commission, and it was only by doing so that anything like a complete picture of real movements--to say nothing of any comprehension of the conflicting and contradictory population figures--could be obtained. He found the discrepancy between his improved statistics and the census figures for 1920 to be only 2,189 for the States and 1,158 for Hawaii, a far cry from the figure of 45,000 which had been bandied about by pressure group writers and orators to point the need of a drastic exclusion law. He found also that Hawaii in that decade "lost over tiro thousand persons of the Japanese race or people by excess of departures over admissions while, for the mainland, admissions were only a little more than balanced by departures." In other words, in that decade more Japanese were leaving American soil, both continental and island, than were arriving upon it.

To continue with Dr. Adams' major conclusions, there was no evidence of any mysteriously achieved inrush of alien Japanese or that the Gentlemen's Agreement was not being maintained in good faith by Japan. The increase in population during the decade was a result of births, not of Illegal entries into the United States. The number of married women had increased from 5,582 in 1910 to 22,195 in 1920, and these Japanese wives were young. Although about 14,000 citizen children had been taken to Japan before the 1920 census was taken, the census was able to show an increase from 4,502 in 1910 to 29,672 in 1920 of American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry in the continental United States.

The accompanying table shows the steady Increase of citizens and the decrease with the passage of the years of the aliens in this minority group.



Year Total Alien Citizen Total Alien Citizen Total Alien Citizen
1900 24,326 24,057 269 61,111 ..... .....* 279 ..... .....*
1910 72,157 67,655 4,502 79,675 59,786 19,889 913 895 18
1920 111,010 81,338 29,672 109,274 60,618 48,658 312 270 42
1930 138,834 70,477 68,357 139,631 48,446 91,185 278 205 73
1940 126,947 47,305 79,642 157,905 37,353 120,552 263 114 149†

*No breakdown into alien and citizen groups was made in 1900 in Hawaii or Alaska.

†In Alaska the census enumeration was made in 1939 instead of in 1940.


Chapter IV
The Birth Rate

Very little attention was given to the West Coast's rising generation of Japanese American citizens until after the close of World War I. The Alien Land Law of 1913 had prohibited further purchase of agricultural land in California by aliens ineligible to citizenship but had permitted such aliens to lease farm land for a 3-year period. During the war years, with Japan an ally of the United States and with the greatly increased demand for agricultural produce, Japanese farmers in California were allowed to produce food for freedom without hindrance. However, once the war had ended and election year was at hand, certain California politicians took stock of the situation and became aware of the fact that Issei parents were purchasing land for their citizen children, taking title in the name of the children. There seemed to be a good many little American citizens with Japanese faces, and the myth-makers quickly turned their attention upon the birth rate among the Japanese immigrants.

The advocates of the Initiative measure to tighten up the first alien land act made dark predictions of a "yellow peril" menacing California, chiefly through the birth of innumerable Japanese American children. When the voters of California endorsed the initiative measure in sufficient number to make it a law of the State, the pressure groups campaigned with intensified fervor to obtain Federal legislation which would prohibit subsequent immigration of Japanese. Amazing statements about the fecundity of Japanese women were made and believed. "Peaceful penetration" was a phrase frequently encountered in the speeches and writings of California's superpatriots and yellow journalists in the years between the close of World War I and the enactment of the' exclusion law. The term was applied to an ingenious theory of a Japanese plot to people California with hordes of Japanese. Wives and picture brides, it was said, were sent by the Japanese Government to California under orders from the Emperor to have a baby every year; these babies would grow up American citizens in name and loyal Japanese at heart) if every Japanese woman carried out the Imperial instruction faithfully, it was reckoned that within half a century the Japanese would outnumber the Caucasians in California and would seize control of the State.

The Japanese male immigrant, with rare exceptions, came to the United States alone. He was young and he had only enough money to get here. If married, he left his wife in Japan until he could win a little security in the new country and then he sent for her. Whether he worked on the railroads or in seasonal agricultural enterprises, he lived a migratory life of hard work and great discomfort. In several years, with luck, he might lift himself out of the migratory labor class and became


a tenant farmer--or perhaps he might open some small business in a city. Once he had a permanent roof over his head and had saved enough money to pay the steamship passage, he sent for his wife--or for his wife and children, as the case might be. If unmarried, he faced a problem in the total absence of unmarried girls of his own race In the United States, Had he inclination to marry outside his racial group, he was prohibited in both California and Oregon by laws against miscegenation. Very few of the Issei bachelors could afford to make the long trip back to Japan to find and bring back a wife. However, since marriage was a family affair in Japan, with the parents making all arrangements, it was possible and proper for a young man in America to ask his parents in Japan to select a bride for him. Photographs were exchanged--hence the term "picture bride"--and when these were mutually approved, the two families in Japan drew up the marriage contract and sent the bride to join the groom in America, quite in accord with Japanese ethics and law. In deference to American opinion, an American civil ceremony became an established part of the procedure.

With rather less formality, in the early days of our country, shiploads of young women were sent from England and various European countries to provide the early settlers of the eastern colonies with wives; however, West Coast nativists preferred to regard this only practicable course left open to Japanese immigrant bachelors as something unprecedented in the annals of American history, and as they developed their thesis, it became a "diabolical plot" on the part of Japan to penetrate peacefully the rich Coastal States by means of intensive propagation.

The first official comments on the birth rate among first generation Japanese occur in the report made in 1909 by agents of the United States Immigration Commission on Immigrants in agriculture and industry in the Western States. At that time an increasing number of married Issei were finding themselves in a position to send for their wives. In Sacramento six-sevenths of the Japanese business men--an unusually high proportion for that period--had prospered sufficiently to have their wives with them. According to this early report, "Slightly more than a third of the married men investigated had no offspring * * * a few of the marriages took place only a year or two ago, but /the scarcity of children/ is chiefly explained by the fact that most of the Japanese in this country have not been leading a normal life. Many of the husbands and wives have been separated for years, and a large percentage of the wives are gainfully employed."6 The agents commented also on the situation among those Los Angeles Japanese who had wives in residence: " * * * one-fourth of the families investigated where the marriage had taken place at least three years previous, were without children."6a


Ten years or so later, with agitation violent,'it was customary for pressure group leaders to perform interesting legerdemain with statistics to suggest the possibilities to future population content of the Japanese birth rate. John S. Chambers, Controller of the State of California and chairman of the Japanese Exclusion League wrote just after the initiative measure had been adopted:

"California has gone as far as she could go under the federal and state constitution and the American-Japanese treaty. If she could have gone further she would have done so. The next development California seeks to bring about is the stoppage of immigration from Japan through action by Congress; and the third step, the amending of the Constitution of the United States to the effect that children born in this country of parents ineligible to citizenship, themselves shall be ineligible to citizenship."7

Mr. Chambers juggled statistics dizzily, snatching out of the air totals which had nothing to do with those officially established. He picked out 50,000, "or the bulk thereof" for the Japanese who entered the country under the Gentlemen's Agreement prior to 1920, stating that the majority of these immigrants were laborers, sent in violation of the agreement, and concluding that the picture brides were "brought here primarily so that the Japanese population of this state might be increased" and also so that they might work in the fields "as common laborers, frequently with babies on their backs. Their rate of birth is between three and four times that of our own race * * *. At this rate, in ten years there will be 150,000 Japanese born here, and by 1949 they will outnumber the white people."7a census enumeration by the close of Mr. Chambers' 10-year period there were not 150,000 American-born children of Japanese parents but only 68,357 in the entire United States; in 1940 there were 79,642.

Dr. Gulick, in an article appearing in the same issue of the same, magazine as Mr. Chambers', listed conveniently some of the brasher statements of prominent Californians on this subject:

"Governor Stephens [in his covering letter to Secretary of State Colby, sent with the Report of the State Board of Control of California in 1920] states that 'the fecundity of the Japanese race far exceeds that of any other people that we have in our midst.' Senator Phelan testified before the House Committee on Immigration in September, 1919 that every Japanese 'picture bride' has a child within a year after landing, Mr. McClatchy testified before the Senate Committee on Immigration, September 25, 1919 that 'the birth rate among the Japanese is five times as great per thousand as among the whites,' and 'that picture


brides usually give birth once a year, or nearly once a year to children, and this is one of the ways by which Japan deliberately and carefully [sic] violates the "Gentlemen's Agreement"1' The Los Angeles Times well set forth the popular belief and anxiety over the situation in its prophecy that if the present birth rates are maintained for the next ten years there would be 150,000 children of Japanese descent born in California in 1929 and but 50,000 white children. And in 1849 the majority of the population of California would be Japanese, ruling the state."8

Further along in his article Dr. Gulick disposes of the "picture bride" legend:

"But the most convincing reply to the excited fable mongers is the Report of the State Board of Control as to the number of 'picture brides' admitted in 191B and the number of their children. The name of each bride, of the steamer on which she arrived, of her husband and his address, and of the date of the birth of her child are all recorded. The period begins January 4, 1918 and ends February 29, 1920. The number of 'brides' named is 524; the number of children born in those two years and two months is 182. That is to say, only 34.8 percent of the brides became mothers in that period. How many American brides would become mothers in a similar length of time after marriage?"8a

In reality, as compared with the staggering numbers hinted at by agitators, there were not very many picture brides brought into the country. Between July 1, 1911, and February 29, 1920, when the last picture brides arrived--the Japanese Government issued no more passports to picture brides after January 25, 1920--5,749 brides entered California through the port of San Francisco.9 Whether picture brides or wives of longer acquaintance with their husbands, the Japanese women of these years were young married women at the height of fecundity.

In 1921, Professor Inui, then assistant professor of Far Eastern history and politics at the University of Southern California, had this to say on the subject:

"It is true that the Japanese birth rate in this country is large * * *. Why? 1. Because more than 60 percent of the Japanese are living in rural communities which usually have higher rate of natural increase. 2. Because of their economic well-being as compared with their former environment in Japan; but this is universally true of all immigrant races. 3. Because California's birth rate is


low, as the state is composed of many immigrants from the East, the majority of whom came here to spend their lives after they pass their middle age. The largest percentage of Japanese men in this state are between the ages of thirty and forty; women, between twenty and thirty. 4. Because they are young, their death rate is very small, while the increase is abnormal. 5. This increase will decline; as time goes on, those who are in the period of reproduction will pass into another stage, while it is too early for the second generation to take their place. As was stated before, the Japanese are human beings. They have no monopoly on perpetual youth. This accusation and its arguments is one of the best examples of the vicious and malicious means used by the anti-Japanese to vilify the Japanese."10

The California Committee of Justice, which organized to oppose the Initiative Allen Land Act, warned:

"Only 2.2 per cent of California's total population is Japanese. In 1919 more white children were born in California than all the Japanese children born here in the ten years preceding. We should not be placed in the ridiculous position of 97.8 per cent of our population being in fear of 2.2 per cent * * *. The highest Japanese birth rate is only 7.4 per cent of the whole as against 90.8 per cent of American births. Within a few years Japanese births will become even less, because (1) immigrants, irrespective of race, have fewer children after the first generation; (2) the average of Japanese male adults now here is about 40; (3) the abolition of 'picture marriages' will make it more difficult for Japanese to marry; (4) the arrivals of Japanese will decrease as the result of present diplomatic negotiations."11

That these statements of Or. Gulick, the spokesman of the California Committee of Justice, Professor Inui and many other thinking persons of both races were well founded is borne out by the census figures. In 1920 the Japanese Government voluntarily stopped issuing passports to picture brides. Although the terms of the Immigration Law of 1924 permitted wives of established resident Japanese to enter American ports to join their husbands, the majority of men who had married before emigrating from Japan had by 1924 already imported their wives; if they had not yet done so, these women who had stayed on in Japan for 20 or 30 years were not very likely to produce children when and if they were reunited with their husbands in the United States. Study of the census figures shows that the number of Japanese American


births decreased steadily after 1921 and was still decreasing at the time of the 1940 enumeration. Ironically, the birth rate was declining at the very time when agitation against the phenomenal Japanese birth rate was at its height, and at the time when the Federal Government barred Japanese immigrants from the United States. By 1940 the census returns showed that the birth rate among Japanese Americans in every State on the West Coast was lower than the birth rate of the general population.


State Birth Rate among
Japanese Americans
Birth Rate of Total
Population, All Ancestries
California 15.8 per thousand 16.1 per thousand
Oregon 15.5 per thousand 16.4 per thousand
Washington 11.7 per thousand 16.2 per thousand


State 1920 1930 1940
California 5,032 2,22 1,480
Oregon 219 75 63
Washington 1,160 375 171

After the wartime exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast area had been ordered by the Western Defense Command, and as the last few contingents of this minority group were being rushed into assembly centers to await further dislocation of their persons and their lives, the Tolan Committee reported officially in May of 1942:

"Contrary to alarmist predictions about the reproductive tendencies of the American Japanese, their birth rate during the past decade has been insufficient to balance mortality and emigration. Since 1930 the Japanese population has decreased* by 11,887, or 8.6 percent.

"Future increases in the Japanese population will come largely from native-born parents. More than 90 percent of the foreign-born females are 35 years or older; more

*Underscoring not in original.


than 50 percent are 45 or older. Almost three-fourths of the foreign-born males are 45 years or older, and about 45 percent are 55 years or older. The births of the third-generation Japanese will fail for some time to offset the high mortality rates consequent upon the abnormal age composition of the alien Japanese. The total Japanese population, therefore, may be expected to drop substantially during the coming years.

"The advanced age of the alien Japanese is reflected in their length of residence in this country. More than one-fifth of the West Coast Japanese aliens have been settled here for over 30 years. Two-thirds entered the United States before the Exclusion Act of 1924. Those entering since that time have been mainly women, and certain limited categories permitted by law."13


Chapter V
Dual Citizenship

Until the American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry began to come of age, the Japanese minority in the United States, because of the law which denied naturalization to oriental aliens, was without a vote, a fact that made the Japanese group a convenient political football. With the maturing of the citizen children of these Japanese nationals, however, this group began to have a voice. Each year, as more of the citizen children came of age, that voice would increase in volume. Nothing short of a revision of the Federal Constitution could deprive American-born children of any ancestry of their right to vote. It may be recalled that the chairman of the Japanese Exclusion League, who was also the controller of the State of California, stated openly in 1921 that the next objective to be achieved by his group, after further immigration should be prohibited, was "the amending of the Constitution of the United States to the effect that children born in this country of parents ineligible to citizenship, themselves shall be ineligible to citizenship."

The crusade to effect such a change in the Constitution depended for success upon its ability to discredit the citizenship of the Nisei. The crusaders argued that all American-born children of Japanese parents held dual citizenship; that dual citizenship of Japanese Americans implied dual allegiance, with first allegiance, not to the United States as the country of their birth, but to the Japanese Empire as the country of their ancestry. It was charged that Japanese law made every child of a Japanese father a citizen of Japan and that all such children were incontrovertibly loyal to the Emperor of Japan. It was made to appear that Japan was unique among the nations in holding as its subjects the children born in foreign countries to Japanese nationals, and that of all the varieties of second generation immigrant stock in the United States, only the Nisei suffered conflicting loyalties. Only was it rarely admitted that a conflict could trouble the minds and hearts of the Nisei, because it was asserted that the Nisei were born with a peculiar capacity for passionate and enduring loyalty to a country which they had never seen and which lay six thousand-odd miles removed from their homes, and it was maintained that the Nisei were born without that capacity, taken for granted in the offspring of non-oriental immigrants, for loyalty to the country of their birth. V. S. McClatchy, pillar of the exclusion leagues and executive secretary for life of the California Joint Immigration Commission, set forth these arguments in detail in his speech made before the Honolulu Rotary Club in 1921 and in even greater detail in his "Skeleton Brief," which was prepared for the indoctrination of Congress.


The campaign never achieved its ultimate goal, but it was remarkably successful in generating suspicion of the Nisei. By 1942 enough suspicion of the loyalty of these American citizens of Japanese ancestry had been generated by pressure group propaganda to obtain the signature of the President of the United States upon the executive order which allowed the wartime mass exclusion of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast region. The logic and the facts which the racist campaign overrode in roughshod fashion demand serious consideration, belated though such consideration is. Earlier awareness of the over-looked facts' might well have spared the United States a costly experiment with human lives.

In the first place, dual citizenship results from a conflict between the nationality laws of the country of a child's ancestry and the country of his birth. If the country of his birth claims him as a citizen regardless of his ancestry, and if at the same time the country of his ancestry claims him as a citizen regardless of his place of birth, the child involuntarily holds dual citizenship. Since the United States does not recognize the claim of any other nation to the allegiance of American-born children--with the exception of children born in embassies--the duality lacks substance and need not inconvenience the holder so long as other American citizens, many of whom have or have had dual citizenship themselves, refrain from making capital of this tie with a foreign country which, according to United States law, does not exist.

Countries of the modern world inherit their way of determining citizenship at birth from two sources. Some countries favor one, some another, but traces of both are perceptible in the nationality laws of most countries. One of these sources is Roman law of the ancient world; the other is the common law of the mediaeval world. By Roman law, the citizenship of the child followed that of the father. Common law, founded in this detail "on feudal considerations," claimed for the realm every child born therein. The Roman or civil law ruling on the determination of citizenship at birth is known as "jus sanguinis," the law of descent or blood, and the common law ruling as "jus soli," the law of the soil or place of birth.14

Durward V. Sandifer, formerly of the Department of State, made a thorough study of the nationality laws of the world, in 1935, and reported that no country relies solely on the rule of Jus soli, for to do so would be to deny citizenship to the children of nationals unavoidably detained in a foreign country.15 Children born in foreign embassies have from ancient times been excepted from the application of the rule of Jus soli, since embassies are not within the Jurisdiction of the country in which they are located but are under the Jurisdiction of the country which they represent. In the United States, the first


Congress, in an act of March 26, 1790, provided for the retention of citizenship by children born abroad to American citizens.

To quote from Mr. Sandifer:

* * * * it seems apparent that the rule of jus sanguinis is considerably more extensive and has much greater influence in the determination of nationality than the rule of jus soli. The validity of this statement becomes more apparent if the extent be recalled to which the countries with laws based principally on jus soli include provisions based on jus sanguinis. The problem created by this situation is rendered even more significant when it is noted that most of the jus soli countries are new countries, and until recently, countries of extensive immigration. As most of the countries of emigration follow the rule of jus sanguinis, the result is a multiplication of instances of dual nationality. Although the mere fact of a widespread status of dual nationality acquired at birth, with such a status continuing for a number of years during minority does not, in itself, present an especially serious problem, the urgent necessity to which this situation points is the development of sound rules for the termination of dual nationality at an age set or that at which competing claims by two countries to the allegiance of the same man may be calculated to cause serious friction."15a/p>

His research into this subject showed that of 79 countries--not including the United States--48 followed principally the rule of jus sanguinis, 29 that of jus soli, and 2, both equally. The British Empire and the two Americas "form the stronghold of the law of jus soli."15b Up to World War II only 33 countries had provided a method for the termination of the status of dual citizenship for foreign-born children of nationals, and of these 33, 22 were countries whose laws are based principally on jus sanguinis. Japan was one of the 22 countries. Until 1940 the United States made no provision for the termination of the American citizenship acquired at birth by its foreign-born children of nationals.

Japan did not codify nationality laws until 1899. Mass emigration had not been authorized until 1884, and it was slow to gather momentum. It was not until women began to emigrate to join their husbands and establish homes that the question of the status of foreign-born children of Japanese parents arose. "Since most of her trade and political contacts were with European powers at that time, Japan


borrowed the Continental jus sanguinis rule, providing that 'A child is a Japanese if his or her father is a Japanese at the time of his or her birth.'"*

It happened, however, that Japanese emigrants in general went not to European countries which operated under the same rule but to countries of the Western Hemisphere which operated under the jus soli. Thus their children were born to a position of duality as regards citizenship. The Nisei were particularly conscious of discomfort in this position because they were singled out from other second generation Americans who were born to the same involuntary duality, for the special attention of West Coast Jingoists. As early as 1914 and 1915, the maturing Japanese Americans began to petition the Japanese Government to change the law.17

It was in response to these petitions that the Japanese Government, on March 15, 1916, made the first of two moves toward releasing its foreign-born children from the obligations of their involuntary Japanese citizenship. This was the promulgation of the Japanese law of expatriation, effective about a year later. The following translation of the law was made by I. S. Kuno and Max C. Baugh.


"1. When a Japanese woman marries a foreigner and thereby obtains the right of citizenship or subject-ship in the nation to which her husband belongs, she is expatriated.

"2. When a Japanese subject obtains of his or her own accord the right of citizenship or subjectship of a foreign nation, he or she is expatriated.

"Note.--A male subject of the Japanese empire who is over 17 years of age, will not be allowed to expatriate himself until he has completed active military service in the Japanese army or navy or he is known to be free from military duty (on account of physical disability, long residence in a foreign country, etc.).

*Law No. 66, March 16, 1899. Japanese Civil Code, Vol. Ill


"3. Those who have been expatriated on account of marriage may be allowed to be repatriated through permission of the State Minister of Home Affairs, provided she or he domiciles in Japan after the dissolution of the marriage.


"1. Foreign born male or female Japanese subjects may be allowed to expatriate through the State Minister of Home Affairs, in the Imperial Japanese government, provided he or she domiciles in the country where he or she was born and thereby and therein obtains the right of citizenship or subjectship.

"Note 1--It is imperative that the step be taken by his or her legal representative when the applicant is under 1$ years of age.

"Note 2--It is imperative that he or she, though over the age of 15 but under legal age, or a person adjudged incompetent, shall take this step only with the consent of his legal representatives.

"TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--Because the Japanese government thus claims foreign born Japanese as subjects of the empire, though not so stated, it is reasonable to say that Japanese born in America must conform strictly to the provisions in the note under A.2. That is, unless such native son expatriate himself from Japan before the age of 17, he can not expatriate himself until he has satisfied the military requirements.


"1. Those Japanese who have expatriated themselves on the ground of being foreign born or of their own accord may repatriate when they establish their domiciles within the dominion of the Japanese empire.


"2. Foreign naturalized subjects, their children, or foreign males or females who have been naturalized by virtue of adoption by Japanese families, or who have married a Japanese man or woman and assumed the family name of said man or woman, will under no circumstances be permitted to again become Japanese subjects if they once forfeit the naturalization right thus obtained."9a

Although this law constituted a step in the right direction, the procedures were cumbersome and time consuming. Japanese law required the presentation of a birth certificate before expatriation could be approved, and many of those of the right age to be eligible to expatriate at the time when the law went into effect could not meet the requirement,16-a Birth certificates were not a commonplace in the first decade of the twentieth century--or even in the second decade, for that matter--especially in rural communities. Even if a birth certificate existed, papers had to be sent to Japan for consideration and processing before approval or disapproval was official. According to statements made by Nisei who experienced these procedures, the time consumed between filling in the first form and receiving official approval of expatriation amounted to at least a year and frequently to as much as 2 years.

The California State Board of Control, treating the subject of dual citizenship in 1920, headed the section with the caption: "Once a Japanese, Always a Japanese.N The first two paragraphs, not entirely accurate at the time, and definitely untrue after the 1924 revision of the Japanese nationality law, contain the essence of all arguments developed by the anti-Japanese element up to and including the present time.

"Every Japanese, wherever born, is a citizen of Japan unless expatriated. Every Japanese in the United States, whether American-born or not, is a citizen of Japan and as such is subject to military duty to Japan from the age of seventeen years until forty years of age, unless expatriated. The American-born Japanese holds dual citizenship: first, allegiance to Japan with compulsory military service; and second, rights of citizenship in America. Under such circumstances, a Japanese, though born in America and thereby acquiring all the rights and privileges of an American citizen, owes his first obligation of allegiance and military service to Japan. It is contended by writers on international law that because our country is cognizant of this dual citizenship with its requirement of compulsory military service to Japan,


the United States, in event of war with Japan, could not demand military service from the American-horn Japanese but would be obliged to permit them to return to Japan, there to render military service in behalf of Japan. American-born Japanese would appear to be enjoying all the advantages of American citizenship without assuming the most important responsibilities of such citizenship.

"Once a Japanese, always a Japanese, unless each individual Japanese renounces allegiance in the manner prescribed by the Civil Code of Japan and his renunciation is accepted by the Japanese government. No matter how many successive generations of American-born Japanese there may be, none of the children born in America are relieved of allegiance to Japan unless the parent has renounced allegiance to Japan and had his renunciation accepted by the Japanese government."9b

The above statement was followed closely by the comment: "So far as could be learned, none of these [renunciations] have been accepted by the Japanese government."

The implications of such statements disturbed a great many people back in 1920, when the United States was not in a state of war. They were understandably much more alarming when thrust upon the West Coast populace 22 years later from the front pages of Vest Coast papers, by courtesy of the Dies Committee, whose members, at this time when thoughtful people were reluctant to disavow the rights of American citizens on the basis of ancestry, felt moved to publicize the report which they had contrived before the United States entered the war against Japan and which Congress had refused to approve for publication at Government expense. In 1943 the report was finally published as an official document by the Government Printing Office. However, it was early in 1942, when officialdom was holding back from sanctioning the forced evacuation of the Japanese Americans from their homes along the Pacific Coast, that the committee released its more inflammatory conjectures to the press. Such details of the Dies Committee report on dual citizenship as have any relation to fact have it only in an anachronistic sense. The writers of the report juggled time and place, presenting as if they had bearing on conditions of the forties statements which had some application to conditions of the years between 1916 and 1925.

As background for appreciation of Chapter XXIII of the Dies "Yellow" Report--the chapter, one page in length, devoted to the subject of dual citizenship--the following factual and documented


account of what had happened to affect the dual status of the Nisei since the Japanese Government first revised its nationality law in 1916, is offered.

After the first modification of the Japanese nationality law, the Americans of Japanese ancestry were increasingly dissatisfied with their status and increasingly aware of the suspicions directed against their Americanism. As early as 1919 the rising generation began to petition the Japanese Government to make further changes in the law which, they protested, had been inadequately modified in 1916. The number of petitions mounted steadily until, in 1924, the Japanese Government responded with a liberalization of the expatriation law. A portion of one of these petitions offers a fair sample of the thinking of the young citizens of this minority group:

"We are all men of Japanese parentage, born on the soil of the United States, and who have been educated in the schools of that country. We wish to be considered citizens of the country in which we are now living, and to show that men of Japanese ancestry can be as loyal to the country of their adoption as men of other ancestry residing therein * * *. The question of dual citizenship and the criticisms which have been made against American-born Japanese have caused us to feel that some legislation should be passed by the country of our ancestors that will free us of any obligation to it, and allow those of us, who have located within the United States with the purpose and intention of remaining and interesting ourselves in the affairs of that country, to show that we can be good and loyal citizens of the country of our adoption * * *. We respectfully petition that at the coming session of the Japanese Parliament, a law be enacted, whereby those of Japanese descent can select their own citizenship without restriction of law, and, having once made such decision, can remain citizens of that country without any question of dual allegiance."17a

In response to such petitions as the one just quoted,

* * * the special session of the Japanese Diet in the summer of 1924 amended the Law of Nationality, and the amended law went into force on December 1, 1924. According to this new law, a child born of Japanese parents in the United States, Canada, and certain South American countries which hold to the principle of jus soli is not claimed as a subject


by the Japanese government unless it declares, within 14 days after birth, through Its legal representative, Its Intention of retaining Japanese nationality. Moreover, even if such a declaration of intention to retain Japanese nationality has been filed, the person may abandon it at any time by making a simple notification. Furthermore, the law is retroactive, providing that even those who were born prior to the adoption of the law and who consequently possess dual citizenship, may at any time cancel their Japanese citizenship by a mere notification. Thus, Japanese born after December 1, 1924, automatically possess simple American citizenship, and those born prior to December 1, 1924, are enabled to cancel their dual citizenship In favor of simple American citizenship by mere notification."18

In view of the statement of the Dies Committee, to be quoted presently, it la pertinent to stress the fact that Japanese law did not, after 1924, require that children born to Japanese nationals in foreign countries operating under the principle of jus soli should be registered with the Japanese consul. It is true that parents who specifically wanted their American-born children to hold Japanese citizenship had provision made for permitting this retention. However, even before 1924, Japanese parents in America had begun to ignore or defy the older Japanese law which required them to register their children at birth with the consul. An investigation of Japanese American births in the State of Washington during the years 1915 to 1917 showed that of 2,345 Japanese births in that State, only 1,770 were registered with the consul. In other words, in the period when the Japanese nationality law was most rigid, the parents of 670 children in Washington alone defied that law.19

Professor Strong, of Stanford University, found in 1930 that two-thirds of the Japanese American children born since the ordinance of 1924 had never been registered with the consul and thus had American citizenship only. Of those born prior to the ordinance of 1924, 40 percent had divested themselves of their Japanese citizenship. The Japanese consular reports for 1930 for California showed that 22,027 Nisei of all ages had dual citizenship, while 24,263, more than half, had only American citizenship.20

Because of interpretations put upon the law, and because older Nisei who had no birth certificates remained unable to divest themselves of their Japanese citizenship, Japanese Americans continued to petition the Japanese Government for further relaxation of the law. A paper prepared by the research branch of the Civil Affaire Division of


the Western Defense Command, on the subject, "Dual Citizens and the Japanese Draft Law" suggests some of the problems of the dual citizen:

"Nisei with dual citizenship who have reached the age of 20 years are subject to service in the Japanese Army under the provisions of the compulsory service law. If the Nisei lives on foreign soil, however, he may apply to the proper authorities, either the Japanese Consulate or the local Japanese Association, for deferment by reason of his foreign residence. Application for such deferment must be renewed every year until he reaches the age of 37 years. A deferment granted to a Nisei in a foreign country because of his residence is not valid if the Nisei goes to Japan for more than three months. New application for deferment must be made for some other reason, such as attendance at a school. Students are granted educational deferments if they are under 22 years of age and in high school, under 25 years of age and in junior college, college, or preparatory school, and under 27 years of age and in the university. The student who is over these age limits must report for induction regardless of his student status.

"During the 1930's the secretary of the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles decreed that renouncement of Japanese citizenship could be made only by a person living on foreign soil. Early interpretation of this was to the effect that Nisei studying in Japan were legal residents there, and so could not expatriate. A later interpretation has allowed the acceptance of the address of the parents as the legal address of the Nisei, so that Nisei in Japan may now expatriate at any time before they reach legal draft age. Nisei permanently exempted from the draft for any reason may expatriate at any time. The same freedom of expatriation at any time applies to girls inasmuch as they are not affected by the draft laws.

"If the dual Citizen residing for a time in Japan does not renounce his Japanese citizenship and is drafted, he will lose his American citizenship as a result of his service in the Japanese Army. To avoid this, Nisei coming to Japan are urged to expatriate their Japanese citizenship before leaving the United States. The feeling of the Japanese is that Nisei born in the United States have a greater job in the development


of Japanese welfare in the United States than in serving in the Japanese Army."21

Early in 1941, 20,000 Japanese Americans in the Hawaiian Islands petitioned the Secretary of State to request the Japanese Government to simplify further procedures for expatriation of its dual citizens. Lieutenant General C. D. Herron, then commanding the Hawaiian Department of the United States Army said in reference to this action:

"In the willingness of the younger Japanese to sign this petition and in their loyal and eager compliance with the draft, as in the attitude of the older generation in accepting the new order [selective service] for their children, there is complete refutation of the suspicion of their loyalty."22

At this point, the Dies Committee's summing up of the dual citizenship of Japanese Americans is quoted in full:

"Dual citizenship is insisted upon by all the totalitarian governments. The Japanese Government has the following law on its statute books with reference to the citizenship of Japanese:

"A child is Japanese if his or her father is a Japanese at the time of his or her birth. (Civil Code of Japan, vol. 3, art. 66.)

"The Japanese Government requires that every child of Japanese extraction shall be registered at birth with the Japanese consulate if that child is born in a foreign country. The registration is then forwarded to Tokyo, and the Japanese Government considers the child to be just as much a Japanese citizen as if born in Japan.

"From the committee's investigation it would appear that the Japanese residing on the West Coast, to whom this law also applied, carried out not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law as well. This law operates among the Japanese despite the fact that all Japanese children who are born in the United States or its possessions are automatically American citizens. They are citizens by accident of birth.


"It is impossible to ascertain how many Japanese in the United States hold dual citizenship status. However, Shiro Fujioka, executive secretary of the Central Japanese Association, southern California branch, made the following statement with reference to dual citizenship:

'Of the 50,000 American-born Japanese who returned to Japan (Kibei), the great majority are dual citizens.'*

"This same percentage would undoubtedly hold true with reference to the Japanese Americans who did not go to Japan to be educated there.** It has been conservatively estimated that about 75 percent of the Nisei, or American-born Japanese, have dual citizenship.***

"The Committee has in its files a copy of a set of expatriation blanks which can be executed by American-born Japanese in order to become expatriated from Japan. The 'Statement of Expatriation' must be filled out in duplicate. Very pertinent questions are required to be answered regarding the prefecture from which the subject's parents came, name of father, reason for expatriation, by whom the application is made, etc. The applicant also must receive recent confirmation of date of birth from the Minister of State in Japan, where births of all Japanese children

*The WRA Historian wrote to Mr. Fujioka, residing at the time at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, asking him if he recalled making such a statement and if so, was the figure an estimate, and did it include Nisei from Hawaii. A letter written for Mr. Fujioka by his daughter Kaoru Peggy Fujioka, dated August 14, 1945, contained the following: "It is true that father did make such a statement. He points out, however, that the figure is an exceedingly rough estimate. Others have observed the number as more closely approximating 30,000. It is very difficult to say which of the two figures is more accurate as no official record was ever kept. Furthermore, this figure represents the number of those returning to Japan in the twentieth century from both the continental United States and Hawaii--with the greater majority leaving from the latter place."

**It should be observed that the basis for this assumption is not indicated.

***It would be interesting to know who estimated--let us omit the "conservatively"--this percentage.


throughout the world are registered through their local consular offices. In this connection, the committee learned that Japanese consuls and consular aides did everything in their power to dissuade applicants from expatriating from Japan. According to a Japanese informant there has not been a single instance where Japan has actually released an American-born Japanese from dual-citizenship status. The committee's investigation revealed that not many American-born Japanese ever made any attempt to become expatriated from Japan."23

Here, as in subsequent investigations, the committee was more interested in concealing than in revealing facts. In this instance their attempt moved them to quote without acknowledgment from the 1920 report of the State Board of Control that item referring to the Japanese Vice Consul's statement that as yet no application for renunciation of Japanese citizenship had been approved by the Japanese Government. In other words, the Dies Committee introduced a statement made in good faith of contemporary conditions by a vice consul in 1919, or possibly 1920, as evidence to support their misrepresentation of conditions existing 20 years later.

Finally, to bring common sense to bear on the question of Nisei dual citizenship, counsel for Korematsu said, in his brief presented before the Supreme Court of the United States in the Korematsu case:

"The United States disavows the claims of all foreign governments to the allegiance of our citizens. 8 USCA, Section 800. There is neither a legal nor a moral duty imposed upon a native-born American to divest himself of the citizenship which a foreign country may bestow upon him by virtue of its Jus sanguinis. Why should he disavow that which he refuses to recognize? Should he spend time and money simply to notify a foreign government that he does not recognize its jus sanguinis and then take trouble to extricate himself from its futile claims by a complicated legal procedure? An American consul in Japan in peace time owes the American-born citizen there the full protection guaranteed by the jus soli of the United States under international law and this nullifies any claim Japan might assert as to jurisdiction over him arising out of its jus sanguinis. Why should we ask these people to go to the trouble of voiding a citizenship Japan confers when they do not even accept it? Refusing to recognize it or


ignoring it is in itself a repudiation. We do not ask the descendants of European aliens here to renounce citizenship arising from the jus sanguinis of European governments and we do not accuse them of disloyalty arising out of the fact of dual citizenship or failure to renounce it. Dual citizenship is not dual allegiance and does not create disloyalty to this nation. It is significant that Japanese descended persons have done more to shake off the dual citizenship they never solicited than have European descended citizens. Since 1924 the sole method by which an American-born Japanese can obtain rights to Japanese citizenship is by being registered within 14 days after birth with a Japanese consular official.* * * Such registration, however, could not constitute acceptance of Japanese citizenship by an infant who is not sui .juris and is powerless to prevent the idle act.* * * If we are to suspect citizens of disloyalty simply because the country of their ancestors looks upon them as entitled to the benefits of citizenship under its law we must necessarily suspect all German and Italian descended citizens of disloyalty. We must also entertain serious doubts about the loyalty of all of our citizens of foreign stocks, which means of all our citizens, for we are all descended from foreign stocks. * * * All that the silly suspicion of these people arising out of the charge of dual citizenship proves is that there is a lot of nonsense in prejudiced skulls."24


Chapter VI
Japanese Language Schools

Considering the violence of the attack made against language schools in recent years, it is curious to discover that in the campaigns for the alien land laws and even the drive for exclusion, little was said of the language schools. Mr. McClatchy in his skeleton brief on Japanese immigration and colonization, which was presented by Senator Hiram Johnson to the Secretary of State in 1921, a document of 143 pages of fine print, devoted only a third 'of page 52 and a few lines on page 53 to the language schools, while the State Board of Control in its report dismissed the schools in a page and a half. Dr. Gulick, champion of the Japanese Americans, was moved to protest this cursory treatment of the subject by the State board, saying:

"There is no more important approach to the Japanese problem as it is and will continue to be through the decades, than through the school.

"The problem of the Japanese language schools is apparently being allowed to drift as was the case in the Hawaiian Islands. A wise policy in regard to them is much to be desired--a policy of proper supervision and regulation."8-b

Shortly after the Immigration Law of 1924 went into effect, a movement to have the Japanese exclusion clause revoked and to have Japan put under the quota system began to gather momentum. It was being argued that the quota basis of admission would permit somewhere between 125 and 185 Japanese to enter the United States annually, that more than that number were coming in under the categorical exceptions named in the law, and that there was no point in preserving a law that was obnoxious and insulting to a proud and powerful nation since its revocation would mean such a negligible volume of immigration. The question was being considered seriously by an increasingly large proportion of the people.

The California Joint Immigration Commission, whose continued existence was dedicated to preservation of the exclusion law, set forth to tighten up its defences and freshen its arguments. The language schools, heretofore passed over, were recognized as suitable material for exploitation. Yet at that particular time, there was an embarrassing obstacle in the way of a wholehearted attack on the Japanese language schools.


In 1921 the California Legislature--possibly under the influence of Dr. Gulick's article--had embellished its school law with Section 1534 under the Political Code of California. Under the authority of this section, all foreign language schools were placed within the jurisdiction of the State Department of Public Instruction. Standards were established and had to be maintained. All teachers had to pass examinations in English as well as in the foreign tongue used in the school, and furthermore they had to pass an examination in United States history. The law of California regulated the administration of the schools, decided what textbooks were suitable for the instruction of American children, and what hours were proper. This law was obviously a hindrance to any all-out campaign to calumniate the language schools. The Native Sons of the Golden West, the California American Legion, the State Grange, Mr. McClatchy, Mr. Hearst, and State Attorney General U. S. Webb were, for an interval, frustrated. The body politic of California's Joint Immigration Commission could scarcely launch a crusade against the Japanese language schools so long as these operated under the supervision of California's State Board of Education. To say that the language schools were subversive would be to imply that the Stabs Board of Education was subversive too--or at best criminally negligent.

This period of inaction was not too protracted. Although no one among California's immigrant population was sufficiently bothered by the State's supervision of foreign language schools to contest the law, over in Hawaii a Japanese named V. T. Tokushige contested a similar law, and on February 21, 1927 won his case.25 ^ Nebraska a German contested a law which placed foreign language schools under Stat© control. He, too, won his case, and the court ruled:

*  * * * evidently the Legislature has attempted to interfere with the calling of modern language teachers, with the opportunities of pupils to acquire knowledge, and with the power of parents to control their own."26

On May 4, 1927, California Attorney General U. S. Webb, on the basis of the Hawaiian case and quoting from the Nebraska case which had Involved a German parochial school, delivered an opinion to the effect that State control of language schools was invalid. On the strength of this opinion, legal requirements for language schools were waived.27 This arbitrary removal of the foreign language schools from State supervision in California cleared the field for a major offensive against the language schools of the Japanese. It immediately became feasible for any superpatriot to declare from the platform or through the press that the Japanese language schools were subversive, anti-American, unholy, and that they taught Emperor worship. Neither the speakers nor their listeners were in a position to prove or disprove such statements. As was discovered early in World War II, persons in


the United States, barring the Japanese themselves, a fair number of missionaries, and a very few scholars and diplomats, who knew more of the Japanese language than the word "kimono" were not to be found. Some of the missionaries and scholars protested that the assertions of the racists were false, but their voices were not heard above the din made by the agitators, and the missionaries' word was generally discredited because so many of them were themselves conducting language schools.

At this point it is pertinent to summarize the history of these language schools. The first Japanese language schools in America were set up in Christian missions. They were established for two purposes: first, to help the newly arrived immigrant learn enough English to make his way in the new country; and second, to help the few children of that early period, whose parents might take them back to Japan to live and attend school, to learn to read and write their parents' tongue and to keep up with school subjects taught in Japan. The first Japanese immigrants, like many other immigrants, came to America hoping to make money and expecting to return to their native land to enjoy the rewards of their labor. Like other immigrants, once they had established themselves, once they perceived their children's future in America as American citizens to be advantageous, they began to doubt the wisdom of returning to Japan. It was with the rise of the Second generation citizen stock that the Issei changed their ideas about going back to Japan to live.

The first Japanese language school in the United States was established in 1887 at San Francisco. This school constituted a symbol of nonsectarian Christian belief among the Japanese immigrant students, who had organized this mission school as a project of the Japanese Gospel Society. Two years later a Methodist mission for Japanese opened a similar school, and other Christian churches followed the example of these pioneers. It was not until 1899 that a Buddhist mission, patterned after the Christian, opened a school in San Francisco, o-b In Los Angeles the Methodists were first in the field, organizing a mission and school in 1896. A Presbyterian mission school opened in 1902, and in 1904 the Buddhists established a mission and school.6-c

Invariably these mission schools which had been organized during the period of mass migrations were used to teach the immigrants English, so that they might make a swifter adjustment to life in the United States. It was later, as families began to be reunited, as native Japanese children were brought to America and as American-born children reached school age, that classes were introduced which would help to bridge the gap between the generations, classes to familiarize the children with the language and culture of their parents.


Professor E. K. Strong, of Stanford University, who conducted one of the most intensive investigations of the life and ways of the second generation Japanese Americans, wrote in 1934 on the basis of his findings:

"What are the arguments in favor of the Japanese-language schools? First, the common language binds the first and the second generations more closely together* This is important, since the tendency among all races that have come to America has been for the second generation to break away from the control of their parents, looking down upon them as ignorant of American ways * * * A second reason for the language school is that it serves as a unifying social organization in the community.* * * A third argument for the schools is that knowledge of the Japanese language is of help, in many cases a necessity, in securing vocational opportunities."

To put it baldly, Japanese American citizens, highly educated in American schools and promised full rights and privileges of American citizens, could rarely find employment in the lines of work for which they were fitted because of the prejudice against members of their race. Therefore, they had to resort to white-collar jobs in Japanese-conducted businesses or professions confined to the little Tokyo of a larger city. To work in importing businesses or in little Tokyos generally, where they dealt with either Japanese companies or old Issei customers, it was necessary for the Nisei to be able to speak, read and write Japanese.

After the language schools had been removed from State control and when the feeling against them was running high, various scholars investigated and reported on the schools. A Stanford University investigator made the following discovery:

*  * * * although legal requirements were waived after 1927 as a result of the court decision, the local language school boards in most instances voluntarily retained the standards and requirements which had been set. He found that the approved textbooks were being used and that constant revisions to introduce new materials pertinent to the American scene were being made."16-b


Another serious investigator of the early thirties reported:

"The strongest objection which has been raised in this country toward the language schools of the Japanese has been that they foster anti-American ideas. This accusation is without basis. A thorough study has been made of all the textbooks to eradicate such possibilities."28

H. A. Millie, a recognized authority on the Japanese American problem, wrote in 1932:

" * * * these schools are not intended to perpetuate the traditions and moral concepts of Japan. They are supplementary schools, and at the worst there is much less in them to be adversely criticized than in the parochial schools attended by so many children of South and East European immigrants."29

The sharpest criticism of the schools comes from a first generation Japanese scholar, for many years prior to evacuation and currently a professor at Stanford University:

"As a result of * * * studies, observations, and experiences over a long period, the writer is willing to venture the conclusion that generally speaking, these schools have been unsuccessful in their primary function--that of imparting a knowledge of the Japanese language to American-born children of Japanese descent. * * * In support of his conclusion the writer wishes to present the following observations: In the first place, the Japanese language schools have not escaped the usual fate of all attempts at teaching the foreign languages--it has been impossible to overcome the fundamental obstacle arising from environment. The mother tongue of these children is English, which they use every moment of their life in work and play except when they are in the classrooms of the language schools and when they are absolutely forced to use Japanese at home or when school facilities are denied them. They receive their general education in the public schools, where their English vocabulary is easily built up, but not their Japanese vocabulary. The children are conscious of their mastery of English, and of their defective knowledge of Japanese; they are intelligent enough to use the language that they know, and have vanity


enough to conceal what they are ignorant of, and thus will not use the language of which they have only a defective knowledge. Bilingual success is yet to be at all generally achieved. In the second place, children of 1ami grant races generally dislike to use their parental tongues, concerning which they hear only derogatory remarks from their American classmates and playmates. Their one desire seems to be to lose their racial, national, or linguistic identities, and to become an integral part of the American people as soon as possible. In the third place, while spoken Japanese is relatively easy, having no complicated sounds, written Japanese is difficult for foreigners to acquire.* * * American-born Japanese are foreigners, and they find the foreigner's difficulty. * * * To those who are familiar with a Western language and with Japanese, it is unnecessary to stress the relative difficulty of the two tongues; the former is written in simple alphabets while the latter employs cumbersome Chinese ideograms. Primary school children of Japan are supposed to acquire from 1,500 to 2,000 of these characters, yet one who is able to read or write Japanese intelligently must possess the command of from 5,000 to 6,000 of them. Again, Japanese calligraphy is an art which requires many years of constant practice before one can execute it acceptably. * * * most of the American-born Japanese children are not able to attend the language school long enough to overcome the attendant difficulties. The relative failure of the Japanese language schools in this country to impart a knowledge of that tongue seems but natural; the achievement of real success by them is a hope beyond realization."18a

The most telling refutation of the charges made by the West Coast racists against the language schools is to be found in the extensive use made of the graduates of these schools by the Army and Navy in the war against Japan. In the summer of 1942, while the Nisei were still being classified automatically as 4-C (registrants not acceptable for military training and service because of nationality or ancestry) the War Department relaxed its regulations to the extent of accepting qualified Nisei for special assignments. The Intelligence branch of the United States Army periodically sent recruiting officers to the relocation centers to interview and examine candidates. Loyal American citizens of Japanese ancestry were badly needed to teach the fundamentals of the Japanese language to officers of Military Intelligence and also to serve as translators and interpreters. The Kibei, perhaps the most commonly misunderstood group within the Japanese


American minority, suspect because they had part or most of their education in Japan, and the Nisei graduates of Japanese language schools in America answered this call and subsequently proved invaluable to the armed forces of the United States, both as instructors in the language schools conducted by Military Intelligence for its officers and as translators and interpreters with the fighting men in the Pacific Theatre. The Navy, while refusing to induct Americans of Japanese ancestry as enlistees, nevertheless used them as civilian instructors in its language school for intelligence officers at Boulder, Colorado, and later permitted the Marines to borrow Nisei in uniform from the Army to ease progress through enemy-held territory in the Pacific.30


Chapter VII
Distribution of Japanese Americans

At the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States, or shortly thereafter, much attention was given to the fact that Americans of Japanese ancestry and their alien parents were most heavily concentrated in those areas of the Pacific Coast states which had attracted the heaviest concentrations of the population as a whole.

Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, Commanding General of the Western Defense Command and Fourth Army, in a memorandum of February 14, 1942, addressed to the Secretary of War and recommending the "evacuation of Japanese and other subversive persons from the Pacific Coast,"31 presented one kind of thinking on the subject of the distribution of this small minority group.

"The area lying to the west of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains in Washington, Oregon and California, is highly critical not only because the lines of communication and supply to the Pacific theater pass through it, but also because of the vital industrial production therein, particularly aircraft. In the war in which we are now engaged racial affinities are not severed by migration. The Japanese race is an enemy race and while many second and third generation Japanese born on United States soil, possessed of United States citizenship, have become 'Americanized', the racial strains are undiluted. To conclude otherwise is to expect that children born of white parents on Japanese soil sever all racial affinity and become loyal Japanese subjects, ready to fight and, if necessary, to die for Japan in a war against the nation of their parents. That Japan is allied with Germany and Italy in this struggle is no ground for assuming that any Japanese, barred from assimilation by convention as he is, though born and raised in the United States, will not turn against this nation when the final test of loyalty comes. It, therefore, follows that along the vital Pacific Coast over 112,000 potential enemies, of Japanese extraction, are at large today. There are indications that these are organized and ready for concerted action at a favorable opportunity. The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.*31-a

*italics not in original.


The Final Report on the Japanese evacuation, published under General DeWitt's signature, magnifies considerably the hazard to the internal security of the United States which the distribution of the Japanese population supposedly constituted. The more telling paragraphs of that report bear a significant resemblance to certain paragraphs contained in a statement presented to the Tolan Committee in the spring of 1942 by California's Attorney General Earl Warren. The following paragraphs are quoted from the former Attorney General's prepared statement for the record of the Tolan Committee:

"I do not mean to suggest that it should be thought that all of these Japanese who are adjacent to strategic points are knowing parties to some vast conspiracy to destroy our State by sudden and mass sabotage. Undoubtedly, the presence of many of these persons in their present locations is mere coincidence, but it would seem equally beyond doubt that the presence of others is not coincidence. It would seem difficult, for example, to explain the situation in Santa Barbara County by coincidence alone.

"In the northern end of that county is Camp Cook where, I am informed, the only armored division on the Pacific coast will be located. The only practical entrance to Camp Cook is on the secondary road through the town of Lompoc. The maps show this entrance is flanked with Japanese property, and it is impossible to move a single man or a piece of equipment in or out of Camp Cook without having it pass under the scrutiny of numerous Japanese. * * * Immediately north of Camp Cook is a stretch of open beach ideally suited for landing purposes, extending for 15 or 20 miles, on which almost the only inhabitants are Japanese.

"Throughout the Santa Maria Valley and including the cities of Santa Maria and Guadalupe every utility, airfield, bridge, telephone, and power line or other facility of importance is flanked by Japanese, and they even surround the oil fields in this area. Only a few miles south, however, is the Santa Ynez Valley, an area equally as productive agriculturally as the Santa Maria Valley and with lands equally available for purchase and lease, but without any strategic installations whatsoever. There are no Japanese in the Santa Ynez Valley.

"Similarly, along the coastal plain of Santa Barbara County from Gaviota south, the entire plain, though narrow, is subject to intensive cultivation. Yet the only Japanese in this area are located immediately adjacent to such widely separated points as the El Cap!tan oil field, Elwood oil


field, Summerland oil field, Santa Barbara Airport, and Santa Barbara Lighthouse and Harbor entrance, and there are no Japanese on the equally attractive lands between these points.

"Such a distribution of the Japanese population appears to manifest something more than coincidence. But in any case, it is certainly evident that the Japanese population of California is, as a whole, ideally situated with reference to points of strategic importance, to carry into execution a tremendous program of sabotage on a mass scale should any considerable number of them have been inclined to do so."13a

Here are the paragraphs from General DeWitt's Final Report:

"It could not be established, of course, that the location of thousands of Japanese adjacent to strategic points verified the existence of some vast conspiracy to which all of them were parties. Some of them doubtless resided there through mere coincidence. It seemed equally beyond doubt, however, that the presence of others was not mere coincidence. It was difficult to explain the situation in Santa Barbara County, for example, by coincidence alone.

"Throughout the Santa Maria Valley in that County, including the cities of Santa Maria and Guadalupe, every utility, air field, bridge, telephone and power line or other facility of importance was flanked by Japanese. They even surrounded the oil fields in this area. Only a few miles south, however, in the Santa Ynez Valley, lay an area equally available for purchase and lease, hut without any strategic installations whatever. There were no Japanese in the Santa Ynez Valley.

"Similarly, along the coastal plain of Santa Barbara County from Gaviota south, the entire plain, though narrow, had been subject to intensive cultivation. Yet, the only Japanese in this area were located immediately adjacent to such widely separated points as the El Capitan Oil Field, Elwood Oil Field, Summerland Oil Field, Santa Barbara air port and Santa Barbara lighthouse and harbor entrance. There were no Japanese on the equally attractive lands between these points. In the north end of the county is a stretch of open beach ideally suited for landing purposes, extending for 15 or 20 miles, on which almost the only inhabitants were Japanese.


"Such a distribution of the Japanese population appeared to manifest something more than coincidence. In any case, it was certainly evident that the Japanese population of the Pacific Coast was, as a whole ideally situated with reference to points of strategic importance, to carry into execution a tremendous program of sabotage on a mass scale should any considerable number of them have been inclined to do so."

In view of the charges implicit in these paragraphs, the strong insinuation that there was something deliberate and sinister in the distribution and concentration of the Japanese population, it is relevant to present some of the facts behind the distribution and concentration of the Japanese Americans. To begin with, we can borrow a convenient table from General DeWitt's report, compiled from 1940 census figures and showing the exact number of Japanese in each State contained within the Western Defense Command.


State All
TOTAL WDC AREA 117,564 107,704 5,281 4,579
Arizona 652 362 270 .....
California 93,717 89,483 4,234 .....
Oregon 4,071 3,843 228 .....
Washington 14,565 14,016 549 .....
Idaho 1,191 ..... ..... 1,191
Montana 508 ..... ..... 508
Nevada 470 ..... ..... 470
Utah 2,210 ..... ..... 2.210

Interpreting these statistics, the DeWitt report contains the following:

" * * * it will be noted .that the strategically important Military Area No. 1 [the coastal half of the three Pacific Coast States and the southern portion of Arizona] had a total Japanese population of 107,704, which was 84.6 percent of the total Japanese population of the United States.

"Within Military Area No. 1 there were particularly heavy concentrations in or at the edge of almost all the important cities, particularly the port cities * * *. In Los Angeles County alone there were 56,866 Japanese. In the immediate San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Alameda,


Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma Counties) there were 14,362 Japanese, and in the ring of nearby counties to the northeast, east and south (Sacramento, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Joaquin, and Yolo Counties) lived an additional 17,685 Japanese. San Diego city and county had 2,076; King and Pierce Counties, Washington (Seattle and Tacoma), 11,913; and Multnomah County, Oregon (Portland), 2,390. Thus even within Military Area No. 1,067,607 of the 107,704 total Japanese population lived in or near the five principal cities and ports of embarkation."

The carefully considered explanation of the preevacuation distribution and concentration of the Japanese offered by the Tolan Committee in its Findings and Recommendations on Evacuation of Enemy Aliens and Others from Prohibited Military Zones did not appear until May of 1942, some weeks after General Dewitt had ordered the mass evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from Military Area No. 1.

"Limited occupational outlets have discouraged dispersion of the Japanese from their initial ports of entry on the west coast. Indeed concentration has become increasingly marked. The percentages of Japanese living in the Pacific States, beginning with 1900 and for each 10-year period thereafter are as follows: 75.1, 80.0, 84.2, 86.6, and 88.5. * * * The newly-arrived immigrants found a demand for their labor in railroad construction and maintenance and in sugar beet work in the Mountain States. These sources of employment gradually disappeared as Mexicans and other groups gained preference. The Mountain States contained 21 percent of the Japanese population in 1900 and only 6.8 percent in 1940 (though in absolute numbers these States now contain more Japanese). The withdrawal of the Japanese is strikingly evident in Montana, where the number declined from 2,441 in 1900 to 508 in 1940. Except for the South Atlantic division, which contains a very small Japanese population, all geographic divisions have shown decreases between 1930 and 1940. As compared with the national decrease of 8.6 percent in the Japanese population [the total Japanese population reached its highest figure in 1930 with 138,834; by 1940 it had decreased by 11,887, leaving only 126,947 in the continental United States] the Pacific States show a decrease of 6.6 percent, and the Mountain States, 25 percent. Utah has lost almost one-third. California lost least among the Pacific States, 3.8 percent. The corresponding figures for Washington and Oregon are 18.3 percent and 17.9 percent."13b


In view of the fact that a widespread public opinion had convicted the Japanese of establishing themselves in close proximity to strategic points, particularly air fields, power lines, military installations and oil fields, with espionage their objective, the finding of the Tolan Committee with regard to this serious charge is of considerable interest and significance:

"The main geographic pattern of Japanese population in California was pretty well fixed by 1910."*13c

Percentages quoted by the Tolan Committee show clearly how true this statement was:

"The 7 counties, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, Alameda, Fresno, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara in 1940 contained 67,137 or 71.64 percent of the State's Japanese population. In 1910 these counties contained 63.97 percent; in 1920, 67.49 percent; and in 1930, 71.22 percent * * *. This tendency toward geographic concentration is further evident within individual States, indicating that the main sources of livelihood for the Japanese are to be found among their own people * * *. In 1910, 2 counties in California contained no Japanese; in 1940 there were 11 such counties."13b

IN 1910 AND IN 1940,

COUNTY 1910 1940
Sacramento 9.37 7.22
Alameda 7.9 5.51
Fresno 5.4 4.83
San Joaquin 4.36 4.78
Santa Clara 5.56 4.32
*San Francisco 10.9 5.63
Los Angeles 20.46 39.54
*Percentages for San Francisco having been omitted from the paragraph of the Tolan Committee Report which supplied the percentages for the 6 other counties, the San Francisco percentages were worked out for this table from figures found in Table 6, p. 96 and Table 7, p. 97 of the report.

Los Angeles County was the only one to show a gain in percent during the 30-year period. That gain is approximately 100 percent, and

*Italics added.


on the face of the matter seems spectacular. However, it should be remembered that the general growth of population in Los Angeles city and county for the period between 1910 and 1940 was extraordinary. It was after 1910 that the harbor at Wilmington was developed to accommodate large craft and to make it an important seaport for transoceanic trade. It was early in that 30-year period that World War I brought great shipyards to the harbor.area and also an influx of defense workers, most of whom elected to stay on after the war. It was after 1910 that the moving picture industry emerged from its embryo stage and Hollywood, within the city limits of Los Angeles, was transformed from countryside, supporting small citrus groves and farms, to the capital of the film industry. In order to see the growth of the Japanese population in Los Angeles city and county in perspective, it is necessary to consider it in relation to the over-all growth of population in that area; and then to compare the over-all growth and the growth of the Japanese population in that area with state-wide figures, [See table on next page.]


[Population figures from U. S. Census Reports]

AREA 1910 1940
Total Japanese % Japanese Total % Increase Japanese % J. Inc. J. % of Total
CALIFORNIA 2,577,549 41,556 .015 6,907,387 290 93,717 226 .013
L.A.COUNTY 504,131 8,461 .016 2,785,643 552 36,866 435 .016
L.A. CITY 319,198 4,258 .015 1,504,277 473 23,521 560 .015


The table shows that in 1940 Los Angeles County alone had more people than had in 1910 lived in the entire state of California. In that 30-year period of 1910 to 1940 California had increased in population 290 percent, but Los Angeles County had increased 552 percent. The Japanese increase lagged behind the general increase with respect to both state and county, being but 226 percent for the former and 435 percent for the latter. Whereas 40 percent of California's entire population had settled in Los Angeles County by 1940, 39 percent of California's Japanese had settled in that county. However, whereas 53 percent of the general population of Los Angeles County lived within the city of Los Angeles, 60 percent of the county's Japanese population lived within the city limits. Seen in relation to over-all population increases and shifts, the growth of the Los Angeles Japanese colony falls into proper perspective and loses the sinister appearance it had when seen in isolation from the total picture.

The Tolan report suggested:

"The Japanese, as a whole, have become increasingly urbanized in keeping with the general population trend. About 55 percent of the Japanese now live in cities of 2,500 or more, as compared with 56.5 percent of the general population. The pattern differs, however, for individual States. In Washington, the Japanese are most highly urbanized (60.4 percent as compared with 53.1 percent for the state's total population; this proportion has declined somewhat since 1910). Oregon also shows a decline. In California the Japanese are much less urbanized than the general population, 56 percent as compared with 71 percent. The trend of the Japanese toward the cities is pronounced in California; this reflects in part the increasing general urbanization of the State."13c

Remembering that it was found by the committee that the geographic pattern of the Japanese in California was "pretty well fixed by 1910," it is pertinent to mention that in 1910 the person who had seen an airplane, let alone an airfield, was a rarity, that utilities were few and far between, that the vast oil resources of California were largely-undiscovered, and that the placement of military installations on the coast in any conspicuous number was a dream cherished only by the Native Sons of the Golden West* and a few militarists. It was not a question of the Japanese stealthily moving in on strategic installations, airfields, oil fields, and power plants, but of these modern phenomena moving in on Japanese who had by 1941 been cultivating their land, establishing their homes, rearing and educating their children, paying

*See the Grizzly Bear, official organ of the N.S.G.W., May 1907, p. 19, and August 1907, p. 8.


their taxes and attending to their own business, the great majority of them, for upward of 30 years.

Since, by the spring of 1942, it was generally accepted that there was a peculiar significance attaching to the concentration of the Japanese Americans near key points on the West Coast, it is appropriate to investigate the question of how these concentrations came into being, of what led the newcomers to these shores to the particular areas where their presence many years later was to alarm General DeWitt, the West Coast Delegation, and the component parts of the California Joint Immigration Commission.

In 1908 and 1909 the United States Immigration Commission sent its agents into the Western States to make a thorough investigation of immigrants in agriculture, industry, city employments and business. The reports made by these agents filled three substantial volumes and provide reliable information on the distribution of the immigrant generation of various races and nationalities found in the West at that time.

San Francisco was the first area of concentration of the Japanese immigrants for the simple reason that it was at first the only Pacific Coast port having direct steamship lines to and from the Orient. Because of that circumstance, Japanese immigrants entered the United States through the Golden Gate. Even after Portland and Seattle opened direct lines with the Orient, the majority of Japanese continued to land at San Francisco. In 1910 the Immigration Commission reported that from San Francisco

" * * * more Japanese laborers have been sent out.by contractors to work in various employments than from any other place. Because of its position in this respect, San Francisco has always had the largest Japanese population, the largest amount of business conducted by members of that race and the largest number of them employed as wage-earners of all the cities of the West. * * * More recently, with the further immigration of laborers discontinued, the strong agitation against them in San Francisco, and a gradually diminishing number in the United States, the number of Japanese has decreased."6-d

In November of 1909 the Japanese population of San Francisco was estimated at 8,746, of whom 6,938 were adult males, 1,187 adult females, and 621 children under 16 years of age. The number varied from season to season because 1,500 or more fanned out from San Francisco during the spring and summer to work in agriculture or canneries. During the first decade of the century San Francisco Japanese were recruited in fairly large numbers to work during summer months in Alaska as fish packers. In 1909, 1,119 were taken to Alaska.6-0


Maintenance work on railroads, unskilled labor in factories and hand labor in the fields have always been the portion of the mass of new immigrants. Foreigners with little if any knowledge of the language of the new country, of its wage system or of its customs and practices have commonly been underpaid and exploited in their early years in America. Newcomers with only a few dollars in their pockets were obliged to take what work they could find and to accept whatever wages were offered. As they learned the ways of America, they could, if their services were in demand and if they had any talent for organizing their group, force wages upward and shorten working hours.

Whatever the nationality of the most recently arrived group of workers, these newly arrived immigrants have been condemned for underbidding on wages. In the early days of California, the Chinese immigrants who then performed most of the menial and hard labor, were bitterly attacked by labor unions and by unorganized white labor for working for less than prevailing wages. When exclusion stopped the influx of Chinese and the resident Chinese were shifting from the migratory labor class to the tenant farmer class, the need for hand labor exceeded the number of Chinese workers available; when the supply was less than the demand, the wages paid the remaining Chinese laborers neared the level of those paid white farm laborers and section hands. Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Austrians, Germans and Russians have appeared and disappeared on the railroads, beet fields and fruit farms. As the Chinese were beginning to vanish from the scene, the Japanese began to appear upon it, and as had the longer-established foreign groups, the Japanese took over the only work available to them, accepting the low wages, offered.

As the Immigration Commission agents repeated again and again in the course of their reports, the Japanese immigrants were almost completely unfamiliar with any wage system, the great majority of them having been independent farmers or small business men--or boys helping their fathers--in their native country. In general, only those Japanese who came to the continental United States from Hawaiian sugar plantations had had any experience in working for wages. A working day of 11 or 12 hours on the railroads, in the beet fields or in canneries, with a flat wage of $1 a day was the first working experience of most Japanese in the United States. At the same time, the more experienced immigrants from other lands were making anywhere from $1.10 to $1.50 or even $1.65 for similar work. Whatever the background of the worker or his monetary reward, this type of work was back-breaking, the hours unthinkable, and the condition of life migratory, offering the worker no possibility of family life so long as he remained in such employment.

Early Japanese Railroad Laborers

In 1909 when the Commission made its investigation, the Gentlemen's Agreement had been operative for a year, and already,


without a new crop of immigrants, the number of Japanese employed on railroads was dwindling. In 1906 Japanese employment with railroads reached its peak, there having been in excess of 8,000 working for various companies in that year. By 1909 employment rolls showed between 6,500 and 7,000. The Commission agents reported:

"The decrease is explained largely by the desire of the Japanese to find more remunerative and more agreeable employment. This they have sought in agriculture and the city trades. Though their wages have been increased in some instances this has not been effective in preventing the movement indicated."

The Japanese began work on the railroads at a lower wage than was paid at that time to any other group--except in some instances to the Chinese. With the withdrawal of many other workers from railway maintenance work during the prosperous years of the 'nineties, wages paid Japanese increased, rising in one instance to $1.35 per day. Their wages were usually less than those paid any other race "except the Mexican, by whom alone they have been displaced to any extent," the investigators of 1909 discovered.

Superintendents of the railway companies fell into one of two categories: those who preferred Japanese laborers to those of other nationality, and those who objected strongly to the Japanese and employed them only if no other workers were available. Both types stated clearly the reasons for their attitudes. The former preferred the Japanese because they "need less watching to prevent them from 'soldiering'; they are very peaceable and tractable, while the Italians and Greeks are not; the Japanese camps are free from disturbance, while the Italian and Greek camps are scenes of frequent fights; and the Japanese are the most adaptable of all the races now employed." Compared with Greeks and Austrians, the Japanese were, in the eyes of the pro-Japanese railway superintendents: "more progressive and adaptable, require less supervision, and are more tractable * * *. They learn more quickly than any other race now employed; they are sober, tractable, and industrious."6-g The other school of thought gave reasons that were indubitably cogent with the employer: one employer had discharged Japanese because they were "more difficult to satisfy" than the other groups. Those on southern or southwestern railroads who had been able to get Mexicans preferred those to the Japanese because "the Japanese want too much, are likely to make organized demands. The Mexicans, on the other hand, are easily satisfied, and there is no fear of concerted action by them."6-h


Work In the Sugar-Beet Fields

Many of the Japanese immigrants first worked for wages in the sugar-beet fields of California. The industry dated from the 'seventies, the first permanent beet-sugar factory having been built at Alvarado in 1872. From the beginning, the Department of Agriculture took a scientific interest in the experiments with sugar-beet culture, and in 1897 new duties levied by the Tariff on imported sugar gave impetus to domestic sugar production. In 1908 there we're vast areas in the State of California devoted to sugar-beets, and there were eight permanent factories, scattered from the Sacramento Valley in the north to Ventura County in the south.

Originally the work in both fields and factories was performed by Chinese. After a time, the Chinese were ejected from the factories by white labor, but they remained in the handwork of the fields until exclusion, after which they were gradually replaced by other races, principally the Japanese. In 1909 between 6,000 and 7,000 Japanese workers were employed in the beet fields of California. Of these "fully 4,500 were Japanese, about 1,000 were Mexicans, probably 600 East Indians and the remainder members of miscellaneous races, including some German-Russians and Portuguese and a few Chinese." Mexicans were at that time recent additions to the beet^-sugar labor supply, and their presence was accounted for "chiefly by an extraordinary demand for labor or by the desire of employers to secure competition against the Japanese." The Mexicans were rarely found outside the southern California districts.

At that time wages were higher in the beet fields than on railroads, and consequently railroad section hands tended to desert the railroads for the duration of the beet season. In general, work in the beet fields, though dirty, uncomfortable and hard, offered more incentive to the ambitious worker. Normally, in these years as currently, the beet field worker was paid on a piece basis, and he could work as long as he wished each day. The Japanese earned the highest average of wages, more than half of them earning between $1.75 and $2 per day, while 37.4 percent earned more, as against 7.5 percent who earned less. In all 91.4 percent earned between $1.75 and $3 per day. The Commission agent had this to say of the superior earnings of the Japanese:

" * * * account must be taken of the fact that the Japanese commonly work longer hours than either the East Indians or the Mexicans. The Japanese, moreover, are quicker workmen and capable of closer and more continuous application than the other races. Their greater desire to adopt American standards of life and especially their greater eagerness to become independent farmers and business men, go far toward explaining their greater industry."6-j


In this field of labor as in others, while the Japanese began at a lower-than-average wage, they were quick to realize that they were essential to the industry, and to make organized demands for increased wages. Their employers in some instances praised them for "their industry, quickness, steadiness, sobriety, cleanliness, adaptability, and eagerness to learn American ways and customs," and in others condemned them heartily and somewhat ingenuously for "the pursuit of their own interests regardless of the cost to their employers." "In short," as the Commission writer commented, "the Japanese are accused of the tactics pursued by other monopolists; that is, of local price cutting to repress competition, and of exorbitant increases in price when, for the time being, competition is impossible."6-k

Investigation of 6 beet-growing districts showed that of an aggregate of 834 growers under contract in 1909, controlling in all 41,746 acres, 106 growers were of alien race. Of the 106 aliens, 74 growers were Japanese, all of whom had acquired land, chiefly on a share basis, within the years between 1904 and 1909; 17 were Chinese and 15 Mexican. No East Indians had taken to independent farming. Companies or large scale private owners were willing and indeed eager to have the Japanese become tenant farmers, as such tenants relieved the owner of the responsibility of procuring the labor. White farmers found it difficult to compete with Japanese farmers for Japanese seasonal laborers. Even though there was no difference in wages paid by the two classes of farmers, Japanese laborers preferred to work for members of their own race, who understood them and treated them with courtesy and consideration.6-l

Japanese in the Hop Fields

Hop culture, the third major source of livelihood for newly arrived Japanese immigrants, was introduced in California and Oregon in the late 'fifties, and its increase in importance was very rapid. In 1900 California produced 20.6 percent of the national crop and Oregon 29.8 percent. Hop farms are found in well defined areas: in Oregon, the Willamette Valley from Albany to north of Salem; in California, the lowlands along the Sacramento and American Rivers, in Sonoma County and in Yuba County near Wheatland.

The handwork of caring for the growing crop, pruning, stringing and training the vines, was never performed to any extent by white men. In most districts Indians were first used, then Chinese, and toward the end of the nineteenth century the Japanese. The investigators of 1909 learned that Japanese had just begun to find their way into the hop fields of Oregon, and were used substantially only near Salem, where 200 were found, a few of whom had become farmers in their own right. In California, on the other hand, the Japanese "practically monopolized the hand work and the picking," and on some farms they did the plowing and


cultivating as well. Along the American River, the-Japanese had established themselves as growers, and it was estimated that in this district the Japanese controlled the production of 35 percent of the total output of hops.6-m

Wages for picking hops were--and are--on the piece basis. In 1909 it was learned that the Japanese earned the highest wages paid to any race. About a third earned between $3 and $4 a day, about an eighth of them earned more than $4 a day, and only one-fifth were found to be earning less than $2 a day. Only five members of other groups were found who earned $3 or more a day, and half of the non-Japanese pickers earned less than $2. The Commission report suggests in explanation:

"Much of this apparent superiority of the Japanese is due to their ability and willingness to work intensively for longer hours than do the whites. They are in the hop fields primarily to make money and are not lured from work by the social attractions which appeal to the whites who come from the cities for a money-making vacation. "6-m

From the three basic fields of employment, railroads, sugar-beet culture and hop culture, the Japanese immigrants found their way into seasonal work in deciduous and citrus fruit, vineyards, berries, and vegetable farms. In every section of the Pacific Coast where the Japanese were found in any number, reports of the Immigration Commission show that the Japanese replaced the Chinese, beginning at a low wage, that they soon became dominant in the labor supply and necessary to the farm owners--at which point, the Japanese made timely, organized demands for higher wages and better working conditions.

"Though, so far as known, no union has been organized by them, concerted effort, occasional strikes, and regard for one another's 'jobs' have become almost as characteristic of the Japanese laborers as of a trade union," reported the Immigration Commission's investigators in 1909.6-n

From Migratory Laborer to Independent Farmer

There was a common pattern of procedure for the average Japanese migratory worker to follow; He began life in America as a seasonal worker; after a year or two, he remained in a vicinity where he had worked in the harvest, retained by some farmer to prune and care for the farm or orchard throughout the year; his next step was to operate an orchard or farm for a share of the crop; the next was the payment of cash rent; the goal was ownership of land. Whereas men who had passed to the stage where they could pay cash rent often paid higher rent than the owner could have extracted from members of other races, the Japanese who had not yet lifted themselves from the wage-earning class were


willing, for the sake of getting a lease on land, to clear stumpage after the lumbermen had felled timber, to clear brush from unreclaimed land, or to drain swamps, for in return for the general improvement of such lands, a man could often get land for a year or two without paying actual rent except in toil. He cleared a small area and planted it, cleared a little more and planted that section, and by the time he began to pay cash rent, he had harvested two or three crops. In Washington and Oregon, Japanese tenants of the early days commonly acquired the use of land in return for clearing it of stumpage. In California in the delta of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, in Placer County, in the Vaca Valley, and in the San Joaquin Valley they reclaimed much land and brought it to bearing. In the Florin area of the lower Sacramento Valley they converted hay land into berry farms and vineyards. Colonel John P. Irish* in 1921 paid tribute to the contribution made by Japanese farmers to the development of California lands:

"What influenced the two hundred and twenty-two thousand California voters to vote against the anti-Japanese _ initiative? /The initiative alien land act of 1920^/ The truth was what they had seen, their experience and contact with the few Japanese who are here. They had seen the Japanese convert the barren land like that at Florin and Livingston, into productive and profitable fields, orchards and vineyards, by the persistence and intelligence of their industry. They had seen the hard pan and goose lands in the Sacramento Valley, gray and black with our two destructive alkalis, lie, cursed with barrenness like the fig tree of Bethany, and not worth paying taxes on, until Ikuta, the Japanese, decided that those lands would raise rice. After years of persistent toil, enduring heart-breaking losses and disappointments, he conquered that rebellious soil and raised the first commercial crop of rice in California. Due to the work of that great Japanese pioneer this state now has a rice crop worth sixty million dollars a year, and the land that- he found worthless now sells for two hundred dollars per acre.

"Or these voters had seen the repulsive 'hog wallow' lands in the thermal belt of the west slope of the Sierra, avoided

*An editorial note attached to the article quoted above identified Col. Irish as follows: "President of Directors of the State Industrial Home for the Adult Blind for 30 years; Director for 35 years of the State Development Board, an organization devoted to the material development of the State; President of the California Delta Association, representing 250,000 acres of marsh land reclaimed by the skill and industry of the Japanese."32


by white men, so unproductive and forbidding that they defaced the scenery, reclaimed by the genius and toil of the Japanese Sakamoto, and now transformed into beautiful vineyards and citrus orchards from Seville to Lemon Cove. They had seen that 70 percent of the total seventy-four thousand acres owned by Japanese, was these lands that disfigured the state until they had been reclaimed by Japanese genius and industry."32-a

Of the Japanese in the rural parts of Los Angeles County, the Immigration Commission agents reported in 1910:

" * * * the Japanese have taken up for the greater part land theretofore not used unless for producing hay. This land they have improved and brought to a high state of cultivation * * *. It appears, too, that the Japanese, beginning early in the decade as berry growers and frequently beginning later on at other places, have taken up truck gardening after the fall in the price of strawberries or as the rotation of crops became necessary."6-o

Because of the large amount of land held for speculative purposes by nonresident owners in regions close to the city of Los Angeles, the Japanese did not at the time of the above investigation own as much land as in other areas. These speculative tracts were held in expectation of the boom assured by the rapid increase in population. In the interval of waiting, agents leased large tracts, installed an irrigation system and then sublet the land at a higher rent, charging extra for water used, and made considerable profit. Land held in this way ''naturally passed into the hands of a migratory class who are willing to 'squat' for a time and live under the simplest conditions and with the fewest conveniences."6-p

The Japanese farmers of Los Angeles County, in this first decade of the country, like the rural Japanese found elsewhere on the Pacific Coast, had come to America as very young men. The majority of them had been well under 30, and those who had passed their thirtieth year were usually men who had emigrated first to Hawaii and spent some years there before continuing to the continental United States. Most 01 the men came to the United States in hopes of economic advancement and had very little money when they arrived. More than two-thirds of them had less than $100 to their names. Beginning as ranch hands, section hands or houseboys--if they wished to attend school--they had progressed within a few years of their arrival to the status of independent farmers.

The- investigators of 1909 found that most of the Japanese farmers in this county had decided to remain permanently in the United States, and that those who had not already brought their wives to America were planning to send for them in the near future. The Japanese who had had


bad luck with crops and lost their investments or had been obliged to go back into the labor gang after having emerged from it.were the ones who were uncertain about staying permanently in the United States. The geographic pattern had been established in Los Angeles County; after that year, 1909, the increase was in terms of wives joining husbands in accordance with the terms of the Gentlemen's Agreement and of natural increase of American-born children.

Imperial Valley, in the southeastern corner of the State of California, was not opened to settlement until 1901. It received Japanese among its first pioneers. At that time settlers did not have absolute title to their land, and the Japanese, being aliens, could not file on land or buy up relinquishments. Thus, until there were citizen children in whose name title could be taken, the Japanese leased, from resident owners. The entry of the first Japanese to Imperial Valley was unique in that the first three members of that race, who went in in 1904, went not as laborers but for the express purpose of leasing land. A few months later, more of their countrymen appeared, and these too leased farms.

By 1909 there were about 200 Japanese permanently located on leased land. Originally producing barley or vegetables, the Japanese were among the experimenters who first set out cantaloupes, in 1906. In 1909 Japanese farmers ventured into cotton production, pioneering in that crop. Because the first planting of cantaloupes was profitable, 1907 found 1,200 acres planted. This crop, too, was very profitable. In 1908 many other farmers turned to cantaloupe growing, with the result that 10,000 acres were planted. This mammoth crop put too great a strain on the marketing system then in use, and many farmers lost both their money and their enthusiasm for cantaloupes. By 1909 the acreage planted with cantaloupes had decreased to 3,000. As the Commission agents reported: "It was notably the white ranchers who abandoned the industry, for in 1909 approximately one-half of the acreage devoted to cantaloupe growing was land leased by the Japanese." It was these Japanese growers who first brought in laborers of their own race during the picking, grading and packing season which ran through June and July, and in 1909 they were requiring 400 seasonal workers for their cantaloupe acreage alone. All told, Japanese at that time leased 2,500 acres of farm land in the valley, practically all from resident farmers. Aside from producing about half of the valley's cantaloupe crop, the Japanese grew nearly all miscellaneous vegetables. The white farmers were not interested in intensive farming with its requirement of heavy, tedious stoop labor to be performed beneath a broiling sun; they preferred dairying and hay production.6-r


Concentrations of Japanese in Major Cities of the West Coast

San Francisco

As the oldest substantial community of Japanese in the United States, the San Francisco Japanese colony of 1909 has special interest. Although San Francisco at that time contained the largest segment of the Japanese population of the West Coast, the number was found to be decreasing--and thus the findings of "the Immigration Commission once again affirm the correctness of the Tolan Committee statement that the geographic pattern of distribution of the Japanese was "pretty well set" by 1910.

The Commission agents found in 1909 that there were in San Francisco 482 Japanese business establishments, which employed between 1,800 and 2,000 persons. The establishments were varied: book, curio and art, drug, fruit and vegetable, importing and exporting, meat and fish, grocery, "sake," watch and jewelry, bamboo furniture, magazines, newspapers, photograph galleries, rice mills, shoe repair shops, "tofu" (bean curd) factories, tailors and dressmakers, cleaners and dyers, barber shops, bath houses, hotels and boarding houses, laundries, lodging houses, restaurants with Japanese meals and restaurants with American meals; banks, pool halls, and shooting galleries.6-a

Investigation of these early businesses produced some interesting factual information that has commonly been disregarded in most consideration of the Japanese question then and since:

  1. Most of the Japanese businesses were conducted on a small scale.

  2. Japanese were employed almost exclusively in these establishments.

  3. Opposition encountered by the Japanese in some branches of business had made progress slow or had, in a number of instances, frozen out the Japanese altogether. At that time, 1909, for instance, the city licensing bureau refused Japanese proprietors permits to operate steam laundries. Hence all Japanese laundries were forced to remain in the hand-laundry class.

  4. Except in restaurants serving American meals, shoe repair shops and laundries, the competition with white business was of little importance.


  1. The majority of business establishments conducted by Japanese were patronized exclusively or principally by the members of that race.

  2. Most of the wants of the Japanese minority were provided for by Japanese establishments and professional men; the shops and services were established in answer to a real need resulting from unwillingness of white establishments to serve members of another race.6-t

Here as in the rural areas, it was discovered that very few of the Japanese immigrants had been wage earners in Japan. The older men had been in business for themselves, while the many very young men and boys had been in school up to the time of emigrating to the United States--or in some cases they had simply helped their fathers in the family business. The great majority of Japanese city dwellers in America, had been city dwellers before they emigrated.6-u

In 1909 there were about two thousand Japanese women in San Francisco, most of whom had reached the United States after 1902. Very few had come with their husbands; it had been necessary for most wives to wait until their husbands had established themselves in business in the new country. Those married couples who had reached San Francisco together had usually not come directly from Japan but had migrated from Hawaii to California. Generally speaking, a' man could not maintain family life in an American city unless he had the ability to establish himself in independent business. As a business man, he could maintain a house or an apartment suitable for family living. As a wage earner, he lived under conditions that would not permit family life. It was customary for the Japanese employer to shelter and feed his workers within his own house; if the employer were not able to do this, the employees conducted a cooperative household of 4 to 8 or perhaps 10 members, an arrangement that allowed them to exist within their meager financial means. Just as it was necessary for a field hand to acquire land and become an independent farmer if he wished to have a wife and family, so it was necessary for the city wage earner to get into business for himself before he could hope to enjoy family life.6-v

The keeping of boarding and lodging houses and hotels was, in the days before immigration was curtailed, a peculiarly important branch of Japanese business enterprise in San Francisco. It began with the first immigration of the laboring class and expanded or contracted according to the current size of the city's Japanese population. San Francisco's position as the principal port of arrival and departure and as a distribution center for immigrant labor dictated the kind of system which developed around these institutions. In the winter of 1908-09 the Commission's agents found 35 hotels and boarding houses and about as many rooming houses, most of which were located in one of two districts,


either in the section west of Van Ness Avenue along Geary and Sutter and the intersecting streets, or on South Park Place, near the wharves. A few were in the business district, skirting Chinatown. The section beyond Van Ness Avenue had escaped the great fire of 1906; the boarding houses there had once been private residences. In the other locations, all of which had been swept by the fire, the buildings were post-fire in construction and had been designed for the purpose for which they were being used,, with many small rooms. Even though the investigation was carried on in the winter months when the greatest number of Japanese were in the city between seasonal Jobs, the agents reported that there were very few cases of overcrowding in these houses. They stated also that "the number of Japanese had already begun to diminish;" the dwindling of immigration under the Gentlemen's Agreement was being felt by boarding house and hotel keepers.

Proprietors of large boarding houses and hotels were organized as the Japanese Hotel Keepers' Association, which had existed since the late 'nineties. It had undergone reorganization into a permanent form and under a definite, if simple, policy in 1905. The Commission offered the following translation of the only written agreement or regulation of this association:6-w

The association was in effect a trade union with its primary object the elimination of the strong competition which existed between large boarding house keepers whose patrons were transients and laborers available for employment.

Hotel keeping and contracting for labor were very closely related, each of the 12 contractors in business in San Francisco at that time being also a boarding-house keeper, and in most cases deriving the greater profit from the commissions received for supplying laborers. Of this business, the Commission reported in 1909:


"With the exception of the proprietors of the 'sailor boarding houses', the proprietors of the larger establishments have established connections with construction companies, railway companies, Japanese bosses supplying ranch laborers, and fish cannery companies. If the boarding-house keeper, who is a member of the Hotel Keepers' Association, receives an order for a given number of men and does not have them immediately at his command, he draws upon those at the command of other members of the Hotel Keepers' Association. In other words, the boarding-house keepers pool their men and cooperate in filling positions which come to them as labor agents. From this pooling arrangement the members of the association derive a gain not second to that resulting from maintenance of uniform rates and prices.

"The business of the Japanese 'contractors' is much less extensive and less profitable than formerly, however. Prior to 1907, when many Japanese were arriving in San Francisco from Japan and the Hawaiian Islands, their business was very extensive. Employment was found by the contractors for most of the new arrivals. In 1906 the several contractors supplying laborers for railroad work kept from 216 to 1,500 men each employed--several thousand all told. In 1909 the number of railroad laborers supplied from San Francisco varied between 200 and 800. The number of fish cannery hands and agricultural laborers employed through and controlled by these contractors is also smaller than before immigration was restricted. As a result of the restrictions which have been imposed, several firms have discontinued the contracting business. * * » Because of alliances with employers of different kinds "of labor, the classes of laborers found in the larger boarding houses differ. Practically all the laborers found at some are sailors, at others Alaskan cannery hands, at others railroad laborers or ranch hands. Moreover, in many cases most of the patrons of the boarding houses were found to have come from the same provinces as the proprietors and labor agents.

"Besides the 'contractors' still in business, there are several employment agents * * * engaged chiefly in supplying Japanese domestics and in connection with their labor agencies frequently conduct billiard parlors and fruit and cigar stands."6-y

The Japanese cobblers of San Francisco were prompt to organize. The first cobbler shop opened in 1890. With rapid growth of the Japanese community and' of the city in general, the number of cobbler shops increased until, in 1909, there were 72. As early as 1892 the cobblers organized as Nihojin Koko Domei Kai, or the Japanese Shoemaker's Association, with 20 members. By 1909 the association had on its lists


virtually every master journeyman, journeyman, and apprentice engaged in the trade. The stated objects of the association were-"to promote a friendly association among the Japanese shoemakers, to provide means for their mutual assistance, and to limit and to control competition among themselves." The association maintained a supply house in San Francisco and a substantial business fund with which it assisted those needing capital to conduct their business and those of its members who met with accident, illness or other misfortune. The organization gave examinations to apprentices after the latter had had a year's experience, and determined on the basis of those examinations whether the apprentices were qualified to open their own shops.6-2

The situation of Japanese restaurants which served American meals was significant in that these restaurants, after the great fire of 1906, became a focal point for agitation and considerable violence--a condition which led nany Japanese to leave San Francisco and settle in Los Angeles. Restaurants serving Japanese meals appeared early in every locality where Japanese settled. The newly arrived immigrants craved familiar food, and it was up to their countrymen to provide it. The next step was the establishment of restaurants serving American meals; these were patronized by the mixed immigrant and low-wage earning class of whites. Of this latter type of Japanese restaurant, San Francisco had eight in 1904. After the fire, the number of Japanese restaurants serving American meals quickly increased to 30. These were scattered through the devastated area and catered to the great masses of laborers engaged in removing debris and in rebuilding the city. They served meals at 15 cents and up and were popular with the laborers of all races.

"At this time there was a strong agitation against the Japanese * * * directed largely by the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League and the various labor unions, many of which had laws forbidding their members to patronize Japanese or Chinese places of business. At a meeting of the Exclusion League, held June 25, 1906, complaints were made that many white wage-earners, including some union men, were patronizing Japanese restaurants, and the league requested the labor organizations to enforce the penalties imposed by their rules for violations of the prohibition mentioned. Among the unions at the meetings of which the members were urged or directed to refrain from patronizing the Japanese restaurants was that of the cooks and waiters. A boycott was kept in force by this organization from October 3 to 24, 1906, and the destruction of property of the proprietors of restaurants by rioters followed peaceable appeals to patrons by the representatives of the organization. The appeal took the form of a label bearing the words 'White men and women, patronize your own race.' (Senate Doc. No. 147, 39th Congress, 2d Session)"6-A


The close of 1908 found only 17 of these restaurants left these were located in the poorer residence districts of the city. Investigation revealed that while the employees received slightly lower wages than the union employees of white-staffed restaurants, the Japanese received in addition to wages both board and lodging, whereas white restaurant employees provided their own lodgings. It was discovered also that very few of the white employees were union members; those who were not did not receive union wages. The living quarters of the Japanese restaurant workers were found to be "adequate and satisfactory, save in one instance where the room occupied was poorly furnished and inadequately lighted and ventilated."6-B

To round out a picture of live in the Japanese community in the area of heaviest concentration in the early days of this century, it is necessary to consider their cultural and social life and their efforts to become assimilated.

It has been shown that a strong tendency toward organization was revealed early among the business men. The agitation of the American labor unions of the day would appear rather farfetched, since the Japanese always showed a strong inclination to organize and, having organized, to abide by the rules of the organization. Denied admittance to the regular American trade unions because of race prejudice, the Japanese lost little time in vain regret, but set about developing their own trade organizations which successfully performed the functions of the average American trade union.

In San Francisco as in other cities where the Japanese settled, the interest of the newcomers in learning or improving English was marked. In 1909 there were 15 schools for Japanese immigrants in San Francisco. Four of them, conducted by American women, were places where prosperous business men of considerable education or prospective college students were tutored. The others were designed for two types of students, adults needing to learn English and children whose parents wanted them to study the Japanese language. At this period there were usually a few classes for children recently arrived from the Orient and needing to learn English quickly so that they could attend the public schools.6-C Some of these schools were maintained by private individuals, but most of them were conducted by missions. In 1909 the combined membership of the Christian Missions (the earliest of which was established in 1889) was between 700 and 800, while the Buddhist Mission had about 400 members within the city, the greater number of Japanese having been Buddhists in Japan.6-D

Of 77 households surveyed in 1909, "all had at least 1 newspaper and 58 had from 2 to 10 papers and periodicals printed in the Japanese language, some printed locally, others in Japan." Roughly "one-third of the households had from 1 to 5 newspapers and periodicals printed in


English and published in San Francisco and other cities. Among the subscriptions to periodicals by those investigated were 3 to the Pacific Monthly, 9 to the Literary Digest, 1 to the Independent, 4 to Colliers' Weekly, 1 to The Outlook, and 1 to the North American Review.6-E

In 1900 there was a threat of bubonic plague in San Francisco. The plague had struck the principal Chinese section of Honolulu, and the entire section had been burned by order of the health authorities. Fear of the plague drove a number of people from Honolulu to San Francisco, among these many Japanese. In San Francisco one Chinese plague victim was discovered in Chinatown. This was the only case to appear in the city, but the health officers became panic-stricken, assumed that orientals were peculiarly susceptible to the disease and likely to spread it, and set out on a campaign to inoculate every oriental on sight. The method employed was violent and brutal, the victims, whether men or women, being handled with rather less consideration than would be shown a herd of sheep in an anthrax epidemic. To combat this special treatment meted out to orientals, the Japanese Association of America organized and presented the grievances of the Japanese residents of San Francisco to the Consul, with the result that an injunction was obtained and the practice was discontinued.18-B,6-D

Because of rising agitation against the Japanese in San Francisco and reverberations of that agitation in other West Coast localities, the Japanese Association continued in existence, reorganizing in 1905 and extending branches throughout the state. It gradually came to be a federation of local organizations that were formed wherever any considerable number of Japanese settled. Its constitution set forth the four objectives of the organization:

  1. To elevate the character of the Japanese immigrants;

  2. To promote association between Japanese and Americans;

  3. To promote commerce, agriculture, and other industries;

  4. To further the interests of the Japanese immigrants.

These objectives were quoted in the Immigration Commission report with the comment:

"The indefiniteness of this shows the general and elastic character of the association. It interests itself in whatever concerns the Japanese. In addition to this, the association has recently received recognition from the Japanese consulate, and has become an administrative organ of the consulate in issuing certificates of various kinds and in related matters. Its members number about 400."6-D


The belief that the Japanese Association of America was an administrative organ of the consulate was readily subscribed to and exploited by the anti-Japanese pressure groups of the West Coast. Professor Iehihashi, who came to the United States close to the turn of the century and who might be said to have grown up with the organization wrote in 1932:

"At no time, as far as he [the writer] knows, have these [organizations] had any connection with the [Japanese] government. Moreover, these bodies have never enjoyed a membership sufficient to warrant such a statement as that these are the principal agencies through which the Japanese immigrants come into contact with the people of America.' [A statement made by a Nisei college student in a paper on Japanese organizations.]

"On the contrary, the Federated Association, by the very nature of its organization has been confronted with the numerous difficulties so commonly experienced by trade unions. There has been the difficulty of jurisdiction, that of sectionalism, manifested by the local associations, which in turn have never been free from serious internal dissensions caused by petty jealousies--to wit, the difficulties which have always attended the election of their officers. For a number of years even the annual convention of the member associations has failed to materialize; the position of the Federated Association has been precarious, although a number of local associations have been functioning very successfully in looking after the interests of their respective members.

"Another interesting aspect of the Federated Association is its finance. The sources of its revenue have been membership dues, paid by the local organizations, and voluntary contributions; but during the operation of the Gentlemen's Agreement it had an additional income from what are known as certificate fees. Dues have never proved sufficient and have been largely supplemented by contributions made by those who were willing to have an official status in the organization. Certificate fees require a word of explanation, for it was this source of revenue to the organization that caused misunderstanding as regards its alleged connection with the Japanese government."18-c

Japan's military conscription law required any of its nationals living abroad who were between 20 and 37 years of age to request deferment on an annual basis through the local consulate.


"The consulate," continues Professor Ichihashi, "finding this work too cumbersome because of the scattered residences of the Japanese in this country, delegated it to local Japanese Associations along with the right to collect the customary fee of fifty cents each in issuing the certificate of notification. When the Gentlemen's Agreement went into effect, which, among other things, permitted the re-admission of those formerly domiciled here, those who desired to visit Japan temporarily usually secured from the consulate 'the certificate of residence' needed to facilitate their re-admission into this country. This work, too, was turned over to the Japanese Associations, which were better informed on their local personnel, and the organizations, in turn, charged the regular fee in issuing the certificate. Beyond this there has been no official connection between the Japanese consulates and the Japanese Association."18-18-c

Japanese prefectural societies developed early in the new country. There were, in 1909, 27 different prefectures represented in the San Francisco Japanese community alone. This type of organization has been common in the motley population of California for many years. Whether the Japanese imitated the Iowans, Missourians, Ohioans and the many other groups who gather according to the place of their pre-California residence, or whether these groups imitated the Japanese, it would be hard to prove. The prefectural societies were created to bring together people of the same background for social purposes, and once formed they assumed the function of rendering assistance to those of their members who encountered hardship.6-F

The Japanese Benevolent Society cf San Francisco, organized in 1901, is another organization worthy of mention. The Immigration Commission commented:

"Its object was to make more complete provision for the care of the sick, injured, and unfortunate than had been made by the several missions, the Japanese Association, the prefectural societies, and trade associations. During the eight years, 1901-1908, its expenditures for the sick and for sending persons back to Japan amounted to $7,000. This does not indicate the importance of its work, however, for in its methods it is more a charity organization than relief society. One of the more important branches of its work lies in securing reduced rates from steamship companies for those who are sick or in need in order that they may return to Japan. As a result of the efforts of this society and of the other institutions to which reference has been made, no Japanese become public charges in San Francisco."6-f


The pattern of life among the Japanese of San Francisco in that first important decade of this century has been described in detail because it was typical of the urban Japanese wherever they formed colonies on the West Coast; also San Francisco was the first Pacific coast city to receive any substantial number of this minority group. However, remembering the stigma placed upon concentrations of Japanese, conditions favoring the concentrations in certain other cities need brief consideration.

Los Angeles

Until 1899, when railway companies with terminals at Los Angeles began to employ Japanese in large numbers, the city of Los Angeles had only a minute Japanese population. After that date, several years were to pass before the Japanese became conspicuous among the agricultural laborers, tenant farmers or owners of farm property in the area surrounding Los Angeles.

The first Japanese to appear in the city drifted up from San Diego in 1885. These were a few men who had served as cooks on a sailing vessel, which they left at San Diego. Upon reaching Los Angeles, they opened a restaurant. Between working seasons in agriculture, some members of labor gangs stayed in Los Angeles, but very few of the immigrants settled there until the turn of the century. In 1897 the best Japanese sources could find no more than 500 Japanese in Los Angeles. However, with the increasing demand for Japanese labor on the railroads of Southern California and the increased use of them in agriculture in Los Angeles and neighboring counties, the Los Angeles colony knew a sudden and rather spectacular growth.

The Japanese American Year Book for 1905 estimated the Japanese population of Los Angeles at 3,358. At the end of 1906, the year of the San Francisco earthquake and fire and the first violent agitation against the Japanese in that city, as a result of a minor exodus of Japanese out of San Francisco to the southland, Los Angeles increased its Japanese population to more than 6,000. During the next two years the number decreased. Some returned to Japan; others found business unprofitable and sought employment elsewhere. The total number of Japanese in the stable population of the city at the end of 1908 was estimated by the secretary of the Japanese Association to be 4,457, representing a loss of nearly 1,500 in the two-year period. "Of these, 3,925 were adult males, 427 adult females, and 105 children under 16. The number of males had increased somewhat between 1904 and 1906, and the number of women and children had increased almost threefold." These figures were for the settled population; it was reported that there were "as many.as 20,000 Japanese in Southern California doing seasonal work, and during intervals when many are unemployed they come to Los Angeles in large numbers, crowding the lodging houses with transients.6-G


Two colonies of Japanese developed in Los Angeles prior to 1910. The older and larger community spread out along East First Street and became known as "Little Tokyo." The other, which in future years was to be displaced by blocks of modern office buildings, took shape along West Sixth and Seventh and the interlocking streets of Hill, Olive, and Hope. While certain bazaars and curio shops operated by Japanese were located in the general shopping district, the majority of Japanese business houses were in segregated districts and were patronized almost exclusively by the Japanese themselves and by the Mexicans and Negroes of the vicinity.6-H The Commission agents of 1909 observed:

"Practically all save domestic servants live in one of the two colonies, and in many cases are not welcomed in desirable places conducted by other races. This is true of hotels, lodging houses, restaurants, barber shops, poolrooms and similar places."6-I

In Los Angeles, too, it was found that the large majority of the Japanese business men had come from cities in Japan, where they had conducted their own businesses, while a comparatively small percentage had been wage earners in Japan. The average Japanese business man had been in petty trade, he had come to the United States when young, bringing little or no capital with him, he had had his first experience in America as a wage earner--only about 18 percent were able to go into business immediately after arrival--and rapidly lifted himself out of the wage-earning class, setting up in business for himself in from one to three years. They were able to do this because the amount of capital required was small, because of the phenomenal growth and development of Los Angeles and the consequent increase in opportunities for making profit, and because of their own powerful desire to get clear of the wage-earning system which kept them in migratory status, sheltering in men's bunk houses or cheap rooming houses with no possibility of maintaining a wife and children.6-K Here, as in many of the communities investigated, the agents learned that Japanese were not allowed membership in American societies or fraternal organizations, were not welcomed in American churches but were consigned to segregated churches and missions, were not given personal service in American shops, and that, as a result of such conditions, the Japanese had organized among themselves for trade, for social life and for cultural pursuits, and finally, that, in spite of the fact that they had achieved a greater assimilation than could be found among the Mexicans, Russians, and some other races of recent immigration--because of the eagerness of Japanese to adopt American ways and their desire to improve themselves and their lot .in life--"associations between the Japanese and white races are limited, and, with few exceptions, not upon the basis of equality."6-L



Sacramento, the hub of the Sacramento Valley, was predestined to be a distributing point for the kind of agricultural labor needed for the crops produced on the rich farm lands of the valley. By 1889, when the Chinese labor force was diminishing because of exclusion and the increasing age of the resident Chinese, a demand for Japanese labor arose. A network of electric and steam railroads connected the state capital with towns to the east, north and northwest of Sacramento, Oroville, Marysville, Newcastle, Woodland and Vacaville, and with Stockton, Fresno and other towns to the south. River boats carried laborers as far south as Antioch and the islands of the San Joaquin River. Throughout this great area deciduous and citrus fruits, berries, grapes, vegetables, sugar beets and hops were produced in quantity, and in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, Japanese laborers were dominant in the labor force. Between jobs, the laborers spent their time in Sacramento, and to serve their needs and the needs of those who worked nearby, an increasing number of Japanese entered business in Sacramento. Gradually, in this city, the more progressive Japanese tradesmen entered lines of business which were calculated to secure the patronage of other races.

The Immigration Commission agents of 1909 reported that hotel and lodging house keeping was the most extensive single business of the Sacramento Japanese. They discovered that "almost without exception the buildings are painted and in good repair, and the premises are well kept." Furnishings were of good quality, the beds good, the bedding clean. "Both the exteriors and the interiors of these places are superior in appearance to those conducted by Orientals and most other foreign races in other cities investigated."6-M

By 1909 the Japanese business men of Sacramento had become highly organized and unionized, having seven local organizations. The shoemakers belonged to a State-wide organization. Locally effective were the Boarding House and Lodging House Keepers' Association, the Expressmen's Union, the Japanese Barbers' Union, two Japanese restaurant keepers' associations, the Watchmakers' Union, and the Carpenters' Union. The Barbers' Union was a powerful organization operating on a basis of monthly dues of 50 cents. It fixed time for opening and closing shops and set a scale of union prices, imposing fines for violation of regulations. It controlled apprenticeship. It also stood ready to give financial assistance to any member needing to return to his family in Japan because of ill health, paying his fare from the treasury. If a member was ill for more than one month, the other members contributed $1 a month each toward his support. Upon the death of a union member, his family received from the union a sum equivalent to the fare from San Francisco to Japan. The white barbers complained bitterly of the Japanese barbers although the Japanese Barbers' Union fixed prices at a


higher level than prices charged by white competitors; the complaints were based on the assertion that the influx of Japanese barbers had ruined the chances of making a profit in this field of enterprise. The Commission's reporter commented: "It is interesting to note in this connection, however, that most of the shops conducted by white men have been established in recent years and while the Japanese shops were in process of becoming more numerous. Moreover the majority of them are being conducted with profit-6-N

As an indication of both stability and prosperity among the Sacramento Japanese business men in 1909, six-sevenths of them had been able to send for their wives and families. English classes for adults and recently arrived children from Japan were popular and were conducted principally by missions. The educational level of the business men was high, with eight percent of them belonging to a university club. One Japanese was a member of an association for industrial conciliation, three were members of the Sacramento Grocers' Union, and three more belonged to the Chamber of Commerce. Except for these few organizations, however, the general business and fraternal organizations of the city did not admit Japanese residents to membership.

Portland. Oregon and Vicinity

The first appearance of Japanese in Oregon antedated the mass migration era, and the first Issei was no merchant, student, or laborer but a woman, Miyo Iwakoshi. In 1880 she went to Portland as the bride of a Scotch sea captain, Andrew McKinnon. The couple took with them the bride's younger brother Rikigo and her adopted daughter Tama. The captain established a sawmill just east of Gresham, and "in honor of his bride he called it 'Orient Mill."' The community that later replaced the mill is still known as Orient. In 1891 Tama's was the first Japanese wedding to take place in Oregon. Her husband had first reached Oregon in 1885, a boy of 18 charged with the responsibility of encouraging trade between Oregon and Japan. For several years he shuttled back and forth between Oregon and Japan, returning to Oregon permanently in 1889 and opening the first Japanese business establishment in Portland, a restaurant. This was Shintaro Takaki. The author of the article from which these details were gathered interviewed Shintaro and Tama Takaki in 1940. At that time they were living at Orient and looking forward to celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in 1941.33

Aside from this family group of McKinnons and Takakis, the only Japanese to reach Oregon prior to 1887 were 40 or 50 cooks who were sent up from California to become domestic servants. In 1887 direct steamship service was established between Kobe and Portland, and immigrants began to arrive at Portland.

The Oregon Short Line was the first railroad in the United States to employ Japanese, beginning in late 1890 or early 1891.6-P


Consequently Portland became the earliest center of distribution for Japanese railway laborers, supplying considerable manpower to lines operating in the other Western States. Because of its proximity to centers of the salmon industry, Portland was the principal source of Japanese cannery workers employed during the summers from the Columbia Fiver on north to Alaska. In 1909 the estimated number of Japanese in Portland was 3,872, a figure that included those who stayed in Portland during the winter but went to Alaska or Washington to work in the salmon canneries during the summer months. In that year about 500 had been sent out by corporations from Portland to Alaska and an equally large number had crossed the Columbia River to work in canneries on the Washington side.6-O

While the city's importance as a distributing point for laborers unquestionably stimulated the expansion of Japanese business in Portland in the 'nineties and in the first decade of this century, the Japanese business men of that city showed early a tendency to compete for the patronage of other races. Hie Immigration Commission agents found the unusual number of white patrons served by various lines of Japanese business a distinctive feature of the Japanese business picture in Portland. They commented also on the fact that very few Portland Japanese had ever engaged in domestic and personal services. Fifty percent or more of the patrons of Japanese barber shops were non-Japanese, principally of the laboring class; one of these ships had 96 percent white patronage. The Japanese barbers were organized into a union which set the prices (25 cents for a haircut and 10 cents for a shave) at the figure charged by the majority of small shops conducted by Caucasians. It was found that practically all the patrons of Japanese restaurants which served American meals were Caucasians. These restaurant keepers, too, were well organized, and had been as early as 1896. The Japanese Association of Oregon was not organized until February of 1909. There were only two Japanese churches, one a Methodist Mission, established in 1893 and having in 1909 a membership of 70, the other a Buddhist Mission, established in 1903 and having in 1909 a membership of about 570--though only 270 of the members lived in Portland.6-Q

Until the twentieth century was well underway, the majority of Japanese laborers who went to Portland engaged in maintenance work on the railroads in preference to farm work. Oregon, in a day when starvation wages were the rule in agriculture, was notorious for underpaying farm laborers. Japanese, if they worked for hire on the land, could not get more than 40 or 50 cents a day without board. As section hands on the railroads, however, they could earn $1 or $1.10 per day. As late as 1909, the Immigration Commission agents could discover only about 400 Japanese in agricultural work in the Portland vicinity; 150 to 200 were employed around Salem, 300 in Hood River Valley, 400 in the Dalles and perhaps 125 near La Grande, this in the busy summer season when much hand labor was needed. By this time the wages for farm labor had risen


to nearly the low level of railroad pay.6-R At any event, wages in either line of work were lower than in other States, and perhaps because of the little incentive to work for hire, the first decade of the new century saw an increasing number of Japanese laborers taking up land on their own account, much of it unreclaimed and necessitating heavy labor to clear it of forest and brush.

In 1904 the first Japanese farmers "made good and stayed on the land" in Oregon. Before that year there had been a number of unsuccessful attempts. The first Japanese farmers to acquire land in Hood River Valley established themselves in 1907} in 1909 the Commission agents found eight operating their own farms in that valley, four of whom owned their land. Except Salem, where at that time hops were the principal crop, most of the Oregon Japanese farmers grew berries and vegetables.6-SItalian vegetable growers complained of Japanese competition, but the agents were unable to find that increased production of vegetables and berries had had any perceptible effect on prices.6-T

To show what developed from these small beginnings, the following excerpt from a survey of Japanese life and work in Oregon, made in 1940 by the first Nisei lawyer to be admitted to the Oregon bar is quoted:

"Most of the immigrant Japanese were youths of 16 to 20 when they came to this western world. To them it was a land of strange new faces, unfamiliar customs, foreign philosophies and religions and puzzling tongue * * * and for many years, no Japanese women. It was 1903 before the first Japanese women began to arrive in any considerable numbers.

"These were hardships to be expected. What may not have been expected were the outbursts of anti-Japanese feeling, often violent, which plagued the early Japanese, and even found expression in discriminatory legislation. Much of it sprang from race hatred, stubborn, bitter and unreasoning. And some of it, of course, was prompted by the fact that the early Japanese worked for less, lived on less, and, frequently, prospered more.

" * * * On July 12, 1925, anti-Japanese prejudice in Oregon flared into the famous Toledo incident. A mob of 300 Toledo townspeople routed Japanese sawmill workers from their homes, loaded them into trucks, and forcibly evicted them from the town. A group of loggers attempted to defend them, but it did no good. Many were denied even the opportunity to collect their personal belongings.

"But the Japanese are a tenacious people, and those of Oregon are no exception * * *. By industry and thrift and perseverance,


they made the most of the opportunities which contributed much to the building of a state. And we of the second generation are proud of them.

"We are proud, firstly of their contributions to agriculture, which claims 60 percent of all Japanese in Oregon. Mr. Take Oka president of the Japanese Association of 0regon7 has assembled figures which show the Japanese accomplishment in this field by counties and communities * * * Hood River county--Here the Japanese engaged first in the raising of strawberries, and by 1920 they produced 75 percent of the total grown in the valley. In 1925, they developed the asparagus industry, which had been commenced earlier by John Koberg, and by 1928, they were shipping 50,000 crates annually to all parts of the country. Today the Japanese of Hood River county produce an annual crop of $500,000. This includes 90 percent of the county's asparagus, 80 percent of the strawberries, 55 percent of the pears and 20 percent of the apples.

"Salem--The Japanese colony here played an important part in the development of the Lake Labish area into the 'richest farmland in the world.' In 1910 Roy K. Fukuda, an ex-section hand, cleared the first tract of land in the Lake Labish swamp. By 1913, he had developed 'Golden Plume' celery, forerunner of the choice varieties of today. Last year the Japanese marketed 625 carloads of celery in 33 states. By intensive cultivation they made 250 acres produce 200,000 crates of celery, 50,000 sacks of onions, 25,000 crates of lettuce and 5,000 crates of carrots. They used fertilizer to the extent of $150 per acre, paid $160,000 in payrolls, and bought materials worth $100,000.

"Washington county--In 1959 Japanese farmers here cultivated about 1,400 acres on which they grew 2,800 tons of berries, which were sold largely to eastern markets for $280,000. They paid $190,000 for labor. Two-thirds of all berries in the county were grown by Japanese.

"Gaston--After heartbreaking failures, the Japanese here reclaimed 500 acres of the bottom lands of Lake Wapato, which last year produced 80,000 sacks of onions and a gross income of $80,000. .

"Multnomah and Clackamas counties--Seventy-five percent of the vegetables sold on the Portland markets now are produced by Japanese. In the two counties they now farm 4,500 acres, producing an annual crop of $2,000,000. * * * It is estimated that Japanese of the two counties spent $875,000 last year for labor.


"These figures are impressive enough when considered by individual districts, and even more impressive in the aggregate. * * * the total crop of Japanese farmers in Oregon averages $5,500,000 annually, of which two-thirds is shipped to other states, bringing back to Oregon some $2,000,000 per year. Total payroll of labor is around $1,500,000. Total expenditure for farm supplies is around $1,000,000.

"Oregon Japanese business men have had a major part in building up a large and profitable trade with Japan. In 1958, Portland imports from Japan amounted to $226,501 while Portland exports to Japan totaled $1,532,641. The Japanese trade in past years has been the lifestream of Oregon's lumber industry, and until 1937, Japan vied closely with the United Kingdom as the best customer of Portland.

"In Portland alone Japanese pay many thousands of dollars in taxes, but not a single Japanese ever has asked for a cent of relief from the state!"33

Thus, just as the mass of the second generation Japanese Americans were reaching maturity, a Nisei summed up the contribution of the first generation in Oregon, concluding: "We of the second generation, we 'nisei*, only hope that we can do as well. Undoubtedly our path in Oregon is going to be a great deal easier. Much of the old race prejudice has disappeared. In general this land which so reluctantly adopted our parents has been most friendly and cordial to us."20

A year later war sentiment was to thrust this entire generation of Japanese American citizens, together with their alien parents, out of their hard-won holdings and behind the barbed wire fences of relocation centers.

Seattle and Tacoma. Washington

The state of Washington, eventually to become second in density of Japanese population in the whole United States, was slower than either of the other Pacific Coast states to acquire Japanese residents. In 1884, there were only four or five Japanese in Seattle; these were men, working in restaurants or hotels. By 1888, Seattle had 7 Japanese business establishments, but only 10 Japanese. The 1900 census reported 2,900 Japanese in the city and 50 places of business. By 1909 the number of Japanese business establishments had increased to 496.6-U

During the 'nineties, Washington underwent a spectacular development and rapid increase in population. Previously there had been a very


limited market for agricultural produce. The limited market taken in conjunction with Washington's remoteness from the port of entry for Japanese immigrants accounted for the paucity of Japanese in the state. From 1895 until 1899 a Japanese consulate was located at Tacoma, Tacoma rather than Seattle drawing the consulate because it was headquarters for railroad laborers and sawmill hands. Accordingly Japanese shops and businesses sprang up in Tacoma to serve the needs of the consulate and of such Japanese laborers as worked in the vicinity. In 1899 the consulate was moved 'to Seattle.

Seattle's growth, once it started, was prodigious. In 1890, its population was only 42,837; by 1900, it had grown to 80,671, and in 1907, it was estimated at about 240,000. Tacoma had grown from 36,006 in 1890 to 90,000 in 1907. Neighboring Pierce and King Counties had more than trebled their population in the 17-year period.6-V This phenomenal growth in population obviously created a market for agricultural produce which in turn drew Japanese to the State. However, other factors contributed to the marked increase in Japanese population.

In 1896 direct steamship connections were established between Seattle and the Orient, and a little later gold was discovered in Alaska. At about the same time railroad companies of the region began to employ Japanese. News of the gold discovery sent hordes of seekers to Alaska. Seattle became the port from which supplies--potatoes, eggs, butter, cannery produce--were sent to the gold fields and boom towns of Alaska. The sudden heavy demand for dairy and agricultural produce stimulated agriculture, poultry raising and dairy farming in the country adjacent to Seattle. In the first decade of the twentieth century immigrants constituted the greater part of the population of King and Pierce counties. The Immigration Commission agents discovered that an ever increasing number of immigrants, whether Japanese, Italian, Scandinavian or German, were farming in their own right.6-V

The Japanese were engaged principally in growing strawberries, blackberries, potatoes and green vegetables, in dairying and poultry raising. The first leasing of a farm by a Japanese occurred in 1892. In 1909 the agents of the Commission, in the general district near Seattle, including South Park, Renton Junction, Orillia, O'Brien, Kent, Thomas, Christopher, Auburn, Fife, Sumner, Puyaliup, Bellevue, Vashon Island and Green Lake, found 309 Japanese farmers with a total acreage of 6,546 acres, and holdings varying in size from 3 to 100 acres. Because Washington State law denied to aliens the privilege of buying land, the Japanese of that generation and period were all tenant farmers. It was learned that much of the land leased by the Japanese immigrants had had to be cleared of stumps and undergrowth or reclaimed from marshland before,crops could be raised. The landowners generally preferred Japanese tenants because the latter required little outlay and were willing to drain marshes and clear stumpage to reclaim part of any land


they leased, or--in their eagerness to obtain land, those who could afford to lease improved land would pay higher rent than could be obtained from members of other races.

Complaints made against the Japanese by farmers of other origins were not on the score of underselling but were on the grounds that the Japanese increased the acreage devoted to small farming and made such enterprises unprofitable. Too, the Japanese of Washington had by 1909 organized farmers' associations wherever they had settled. These associations were formed for promotion of mutual interests and to facilitate the marketing of crops. They also included organized cooperative purchasing of fertilizers, seeds, plants and supplies. No such modern organization existed among the white farmers, who complained resentfully that the Japanese through their progressive cooperative were able to buy for less.6-W

In 1942 the Tolan Committee reported that Washington Japanese had become more highly urbanized than the Japanese of any other State, 60.4 percent of them living in cities, principally Seattlie.13-c This urbanization was due in part to the fact that the alien land law of Washington was more consistently enforced than that of California, and in part to the fact that the oncoming second generation shared the common tendency of second generation stock to turn from rural to city life and occupations. Nevertheless, at the time of evacuation, Japanese operated 706 farms in the State, with a total acreage of 20,326. They specialized in truck crops, cherries, berries and potatoes, and the produce was estimated at $4,000,000 annually. "According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, they operated 56 percent of the acreage devoted to truck crops in King County and 39 percent of the beets and carrots, 80 percent of the asparagus, cauliflower, onions, and late peas, and over 50 percent of the cabbage, celery, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, snap beans and cucumbers."13-d

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

In the light of cold fact, the charges made in wartime mood by certain West Coast militarists, politicians and professional racists, impugning the motives of the Japanese immigrants in settling where they did, lose substance and credibility. The most intent and extensive examination of historic fact reveals that nothing more sinister than economic necessity determined the pattern of geographic distribution of the Japanese immigrants upon the West Coast of the United States, and that that pattern had been set in such commonplace fashion for more than 30 years when the country of their ancestry and the country of their adoption went to war.


Chapter VIII
1941: Pre-December 7

The nation was moving toward war. Not very many Americans could bring themselves to admit that global war was inevitable and that the United States must soon become directly involved in It. A considerable number of Americans thought it probable that the United States might eventually be "drawn into the war" that was raging In Asia and in Europe, but not yet, not for quite a long time. Many Americans strung along with the Isolationists, who at that time were considered respectable and even admirably patriotic members of American society, and believed that it was entirely unnecessary for the United States to get involved with the destruction and carnage then convulsing the older countries far across the oceans.

At the year's beginning, the men of the nation who were between the ages of 21 and 35 had already registered under the Selective Service Act, and thousands of them were being summoned from home and jobs or colleges to be trained for military service. Defense industries were mushrooming around the port cities of the United States. WPA began to shrink* It became easier to get Jobs than it had been for a long time. The cost of living was rising. Lend-Lease was growing in volume, but there was heavy opposition to extending its full benefits to Russia. Defense appropriations were being asked of Congress which made the ordinary citizen's head swim, for the requests were for billions of dollars, even for hundreds of billions of dollars.

And what of the Japanese American population in these days before the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan inaugurated war between the country of their choice and the country of their ancestry?

By 1941 the Issei were showing their age. As a matter of fact, they looked considerably older than they were. Most of the men had been in the United States for 30 years or longer. They had spent their youth in back breaking work, in drudgery, to be able to establish homes in the new world. When they achieved the land and the home, they had to work just as hard, just as long hours, to support a family, and they went on for years and years working very hard to provide their American citizen children with the education that could lead to all good things in the United States.

The Issei women were younger than their husbands, but they too had worked hard all their lives. If they were farmers' wives, they had kept house, tended their children, cooked, sewed, washed and Ironed and at need had helped in the fields, especially in the seasons when a


year's labor could be lost If crops were not tended or harvested against time. If they were city wives, they had tended their houses and their children and in addition had helped their husbands In the small business that supported the family.

The citizen children of the Issei were coming into maturity! in 1941 the greatest number of the Nisei were in the 17-21 age group. A fair number had finished school and were beginning to take over family responsibilities from their parents, who were tired and willing now to take a rest and to let their grown children take over. There were fewer small children in the Japanese communities than there had been in 1920---or in 1930. By the close of the fourth decade of the century, there were not very many of the Issei women who were young enough to bear children, and not very many of the Nisei who were old enough to be establishing homes of their own. In 1940 the birth rate among the Japanese minority had been lower than that of any other group in the United States. Indeed the Japanese American group had lost more than 11,000 of its number since the 1930 census.

Where were the Japanese Americans, and what were they doing in this year? More of them lived In cities than had back in 1910. This shift could be accounted for partly in terms of the alien land laws and partly in terms of the natural tendency of young Americans, once they have been exposed to higher educatlon and city living> to leave the farm for city life. However, about 45 percent of the people continued to live on the land.

An Issei, looking back upon the past 20 years, said in 1942:

"During the years 1913-20 there was considerable growth, from the economic view, for the Japanese. There was a shift from common labor to the small businesses; first these businesses catered primarily and solely to fellow countrymen. Soon they were expanding over to a Caucasian clientele * * *. For the Japanese who were already resident here /in 1924 at the time of the Exclusion Act/ the years from 1924 through 1931 are marked as an era of Americanization, generally. There was no more immigration, lien had their families here. The Japanese were finding a place in society, maybe not an enviable one, but nevertheless a place. The Japanese were consciously beginning to assimilate into American life * * *. This was a period of the growth of Japanese democracy, of liberal government in Japan, of a general acceptance of the western spirit of democracy. This was reflected in the United States among residents here. Good evidence is found in the Japanese language newspapers. The labor movement, for instance, was treated with a degree of open-mindedness


and tolerance impossible to detect in later years.

"In 1931, a vitally significant event occurred, changing the tide and trend of immigrant Japanese development. This was the year of the Manchurian incident, when the Japanese military, breaking the bonds of liberal government, invaded Manchuria. This was the start of the aggression that was to eventually lead to Pearl Harbor.

"From 1931 on, the Japanese government launched a very active and pronounced campaign to indoctrinate colonists abroad. The military was again on the march * * *. Certain decided changes in strategically important facilities for indoctrination took place. This was the period when, for instance, the two major Japanese news syndicates (Rengo and Dentsu) were merged by the government Into a single semi-official Domei Japanese News Agency. The differences in Japanese national attitudes soon expressed themselves in magazines and publications which reached overseas.

"Immigrant Japanese in America, ruled by law as ineligible to American citizenship, began to feel, 'Well, perhaps there is something to Japanese nationalism. Maybe Japanese destiny is written as the Tokyo government spokesmen, the extreme rightist military men, say.'

"There was also a revival of the emphasis upon ritual in connection with ancient Japanese sports--jiu jitsu, kendo, sumo, yumi. The Japanese virtues were endowed with halos * * *. The Nisei, or second generation, had come a long way toward assimilation into the American way of life through this all. Differences In degree of progress, of course, are recognized; but generally speaking they are more American than they are Japanese."%

At the same time, a Nisei, who had been valedictorian of his high school class in Los Angeles, who had graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles and who, until evacuation was employed in the Los Angeles County civil service, explained to the new teachers at Manzanar Relocation Center something of the problem of his generation:

"To know something of us, probe our background. Our whole lives have been built around inconsistencies. Our early years, preevacuation, were centered in the public schools and in the home. At school we acquired everything American. We learned to talk, think, write, act as our playmates and classmates of Caucasian parentage. We


joined clubs, played baseball and football, went on picnics and hikes, acted in school plays, exchanged valentines, dressed up for Hallowe'en parties; in short, we did all the things that are a part of what we know as American life.

"At the same time, however, we always returned home to our folks and suddenly discovered each day the fact we were in the presence of Japanese customs, of Japanese ways and manners, Japanese traditions. We celebrated Japanese Girl's Day on March 3, Japanese Boy's Day on May 5; we spoke in Japanese to our parents.

"At an age when our college classmates were finding their place in the economic life of our country, we who were of Japanese ancestry again discovered a somewhat disillusioning thing. There were the unusual limitations of opportunities for job-finding--because of our race. Thus it was that a good number of the second generation Japanese with abilities, education and talent, turned westward across the Pacific for their life work. I never did.

"Most of us, please remember, have never been outside the United States. We have believed in American principles, had faith and confidence in the ideals which we learned in school. We've stepped out into the world about us-- and there wasn't anything for us. Evacuation lent shocking confirmation to this.

"Before evacuation, our communities were a curious mixture of both American and Japanese influences. In our religious activities, we were divided equally between Christians and Buddhists. In political activities, we had both Democrats and Republicans. There were such organizations as the Japanese American Citizens League and the Young Democrats. The Japanese influence was marked in sports, language, customs, traditions. But equally there was the balance of the American influence.

"I have recently read a book, The Island Within, by L. Lewisohn. I feel that we at Manzanar and in all these relocation centers, are on an island within. I feel that you teachers are faced with some sort of a challenge to build planks back to the mainland from this island--back into American life."34

The Japanese American minority divided into two major groups, each of which in turn fell into two categories. Primarily there were


the Issei, or aliens, denied naturalization by the law of the United States, and the Nisei, American-born children of the Issei, and hence citizens of the United States. Among the Issei were a few thousand people who were Issei in name only: these were the ones who had been born in Japan, usually during a visit of the mother, but who had been brought to America in infancy, who had no recollection of Japan, who had been educated entirely in American schools and were Nisei in all respects but land of birth, a circumstance which denied them American citizenship. These young people are known among the Japanese as the Hansel, a term meaning loosely "half-and-half." Among the Nisei are the Kibei, those who are American citizens by birth but who have had part or all of their education in Japan. Literally Kibei means "returned to America." Although the term may be applied technically to any American-born child of Japanese ancestry who has visited even briefly in Japan, the Japanese themselves reserve the term for those who stayed in Japan for some years and who returned to America thinking like Japanese rather than like Americans. The Government authorities reached the conclusion that the Kibei who required special investigation were those who had had several years or more of education in Japan after they were 13 years of age and after the year 1931, especially those who came back to America in 1940 or early 1941--as a group these last were known as the "1940-Klbei."

The War Relocation Authority was from the beginning averse to approaching human beings on a categorical basis; the entire experience of the agency served to justify this attitude. It has been found that Kibei responded in a variety of ways to their experience in Japan, Some who spent virtually their whole lives in Japan returned with a deep sense of loyalty to the United States. Some of course fell into the pattern of thinking that a military-minded Japan devised for them. The bulk of them, who had spent some years in recent times in Japan, returned to America psychological misfits; they knew a different Japan from the one their Issei parents remembered from experience 30 or 40 years old, and their views conflicted with the conceptions of their parents; they were rejected by the Nisei, their own generation, because of differences in education, ideas and language. Only about 9,000 of the entire evacuated population fell into the category of "real Kibei."

The Nisei generation is a highly educated one, their average level of schooling being higher than that of the general population and also higher than that of any other minority.

The most recent comparable data showing average years of school completed for persons of Japanese descent as compared with total population of the United States and the West Coast States are summarized below from U. S. Bureau of the Census material for 1940. Median years of school completed may be defined as follows: half of the population


have completed lees than the median number of years and half of the population more than the median number of years.

Median years of school completed as of 1940 for persons of Japanese descent 25 years old and over is as follows:

California 12.2 8.1
Washington 12.3 8.6
Oregon 12.2 8.3

This average is not available for the population of Japanese descent in the total United States, but since the overwhelming proportion of this population was in California, Oregon and Washington, the figures above axe sufficiently complete to represent the entire group.

For purposes of comparison, the median years of school completed as of 1940 for the entire population 25 years old and over in the United States and the West Coast States is given below:

(Including Non-White)
Total United States 8.4   8.8   7.3

California 9.9   10.8   7.8

Washington 9.1   10.0   8.1

Oregon 9.1   9.6   8.1

One Nisei doctor expressed the opinion: "The Japanese, like the Jews, have a bad tendency to overeducate their children. It's like having a Cadillac and not enough money for its upkeep. More Nisei should go where technical labor is required."35

By 1941 the Nisei were getting to an age, some of them, to examine themselves and their status rather searchlngly. An optometrist wrote:

"The Nisei are toe idealistic, dreaming of success that comes only to the best--and only after years of hard labor; they are too confident and egotistical, plunging into studies without taking a personal inventory of themselves; they do not figure the mathematical chances for success in chosen vocations, especially those who plan to become psychoanalysts, play directors, etc. Engineers in particular fall to


take Into account racial preference and discrimination. Parents seem to encourage sons beyond the point of absurdity, because they do not want then to follow in the line of domestic work."35

A Nisei personnel officer said:

"To my mind, one of the greatest obstacles which the Nisei must overcome is lack of self-confidence. Confidence can be gained only through a realization of his own ability--not necessarily ego--and through what I deem essential courses such as public speaking and English. * * * Frankly, the time-worn emotion-rouser'--racial discrimination--is very distasteful to me * * *. Too often, it is used to excuse one's own shortcomings. It is almost axiomatic that there is always room for those with the ability to 'produce the goods.' * * * The average employer who has his own welfare at stake is not going to let a bit of color prevent him from hiring a person, if he thinks that he can profit by it."35

The fact remained that the adult Nisei, fresh from college and fired with enthusiasm and such confidence as a good record in school had given them, found little use for their training and education in their chosen fields. A first class medical man could hope for nothing better than the limited practice of a Little Tokyo or of a slum district of mixed immigrants. A lawyer was no better off. Teaching was virtually a closed profession to qualified Japanese Americans, though at the college level there was limited opportunity in oriental civilization and history courses. It was a sore point with some Issei and Nisei scholars who had high qualifications in economics or philosophy or mathematics that they were shunted into teaching oriental civilization and language if they wished to teach at all. Graduate engineers found it almost impossible to get any sort of job in their own line-- though, by 1941, with the National defense program advancing, there were possibilities in the Eastern States where anti-oriental prejudice was less strong than in the Western States. Scientists found the laboratories of the West Coast firmly closed to Japanese Americans. California State and County Civil Service boards were a little more friendly, but advancement was especially slow for the Nisei, and it was harder for them than for other candidates to receive appointments in the first place. A college graduate who had been forced by economic pressure into the laundry and dry-cleaning business, wrote of the civil service situation:


"For the nisei a civil service career for the present seems to be the least discriminatory. Such a career, if possible, affords him the most steady and best paid position. There may be a certain amount of discrimination against him in this field. For example, about two years ago I took a postal clerk-carrier exam in my hometown. With a grade of 92.2% I was notified I was number one on the eligible list. Up till now I have net received any offer of a position, and I am resigned to the fact that I have been passed by. Likewise, for the position of Lay Inspector I received a grade of 90.6% and was certified to three different federal positions. I may have an offer from one of these certifications. The lot of the nisei is net an enviable one but this is to be expected. For he is a minority and all minorities of every nation must undergo hardships unknown to the majority. There is this consolation, however: the hardships will either make him or break him; if he is strong they will make him."35

In the prewar era, the highly educated Nisei were with monotonous regularity forced back into the Little Tokyos which they had thought to escape. Political science and economics majors had to resort to jobs in the grocery and produce businesses, or in importing stores--if they knew sufficient Japanese to deal with old Issei customers and with representatives of Japanese firms. Farmers sons who turned out to be intellectuals had to go back to the farms to stoop labor. However, in 1941 the majority of the Nisei were still in school.

This generation of American citizens suffered additional embarrassment because of their imperfect bilinguality. Talking Japanese at home and English everywhere else was confusing. At least in their grade school years, many of them attended the Japanese language schools after regular public school hours. Most of them went reluctantly. The Japanese school was harder, with its complicated writing, and besides, the two hours spent there deprived them of the play time that their non-Japanese friends enjoyed after public school let out and before dinner time. The two-hour daily period was not adequate to give them a sound-knowledge of the parental tongue. Their parents were often critical of the children's imperfect Japanese. Teachers and school fellows were critical of imperfect English--or in many instances laughed at the mistakes. The two languages warred against each other. The mistakes that the Nisei made in English were different from the errors common to careless average Americans. On the playgrounds or in the class room, other students rarely raised eyebrows or laughed at a fellow who confused number and tense of verbs or left off a final "g" or even said "ain't". But let a Nisei become understandably confused


over collective nouns, and there was considerable attention, often humorous, focused upon the confusion. Japanese has no differentiation between singular and plural. A Japanese learning to speak English quickly learns that in English an "s" is added to a singular noun to make the plural. It is a little hard to remember at first, but the principle of adding "a" to mean more than one is so deeply ingrained that there is no latitude left for exceptions. Consequently most of the Nisei, college-bred or otherwise say "machineries," "equipments," "furnitures," and even "popcorns."

By the tine the Nisei finished college, they were handicapped by lack of funds. They had not the opportunity accorded lighter skinned graduates to acquire experience, and they lacked funds to set out in business for themselves. The majority of Japanese families had strained every resource to get their children through school; they had nothing to offer the graduate beyond the chance to acquire a degree, a certificate or a diploma. It was the exceptional family who could support a bright son or daughter for a year or so while he or she job hunted in his own field. Usually, then, the search ended in compromise. A political scientist became a dry cleaner; a would-be school teacher became an accountant; a plant pathologist got a job in a nursery; a trained secretary became a nursegirl or a housemaid. Those who had fathers in business or on farms dropped back into the family pattern. A few fortunate ones who had unusually prosperous parents were able to get financial assistance that would tide them over the first few years while they were establishing themselves in business, trade or a profession. Others, realizing that they must look to importing or other Japanese business, went to Japan to polish up their Japanese speech.

In 1941 it had occurred to very few of the adult Nisei that then were other parts of the country that might be more hospitable to them, offer them a better opportunity than the home town, the home city, or the little farming district on the West Coast. They were young, idealistic, sensitive to rebuff, some of them a little defeatist, but they were almost totally unaware, it seemed, that the West Coast was really a very small part of the United States, and that it was possible to get on a train or a bus and try a different state. The older Nisei who had Sansei, or third generation children, were growing philosophical about the future of this rising generation: the Sansei would be spared the handicaps that the Nisei had known, for the Sansei had English speaking parents, American style homes that were no different from the average home of Caucasian neighbors. The Sansei children would be accepted as real Americans. Hard work, education--and the future was bound to be bright. America promised all things to all comers, regardless of race, color or creed. The Constitution of the United States promised these things; so did the Declaration of Independence.

Such were the Nisei in 1941.


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