Gareth Jones

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Gareth Jones, 1935

Since the arrival of the first ship-load of “government contract labour in February 1885, until the 26th Immigrant boat “Miike Maru” in the early part of 1894, some 29,032 Japanese poured into Hawaii.  During the next three years from 1896 private immigration companies looked after the immigrants, and brought here 40,208 Japanese.  In July 1898, Hawaii was annexed to the United Slates.  The contract labour was forbidden, and over-night, Japanese labourers in Hawaii became free labourers.  Children, born in the islands, were granted the right of American citizenship.  

For a time being, the Japanese government restricted the immigration to Hawaii, but the bar was lifted in the latter part of 1901, and a limited number of Japanese was allowed to leave Japan.  Within the short period of five or six years more than 40,000 Japanese came. The majority of these Japanese made Hawaii their stepping-stone and deluged the Pacific coast states.  In 1907 the ‘Gentleman’s Agreement” was drawn up, and the immigrants from Japan were stopped.  With the passage of the Immigration Act in 1924, Japanese were ex­cluded from the United States. Not a single Japanese Immigrant can now come into Hawaii.  

Looking back at the past half a century, the Japanese have gone through many striking changes.  They have built up slowly, the foundation of today, but industrially they have not accomplished anything very strik­ing.  Only in population, have the Japanese beaten other nationalities.  Out of some 15.000 Japanese only a third are first genera­tion Japanese.  Death has removed many of them; others have gone back to Japan.  But the second and third generation Japanese are increasing steadily.  Over 10,000 are now ex­ercising their right as voters, and many engaged in hopeful occupations.  These facts are most encouraging, and they strengthen our hope of the future.

However today, the Japanese both of the first and second generation are being put to a test. They are, in the words of the streets, “being put on the spot.” They are seriously been questioned:

 a. Have the Japanese during the past fifty years made an honest effort toward assimilation?

b. Are the Japanese born in Hawaii truly loyal American citizens, or can they become absolutely loyal to America?

c. Are the Japan­ese bringing up their children into good and loyal American citizens?

The future of the Japanese in Hawaii, and the relations between the two countries depend on the solution of these two problems.  Japanese have been excluded from Canada. Australia, America and Brazil.  The chief reason is that “Japanese do not assimilate,” for example, let us quote some of the out­standing arguments. 

1. Mr. McClatchy. Editor of ” Sacra­mento Bee,” holds that the Japanese as a race cannot assimilate.  He gives three reasons:

a. “Japanese racial characteristics, hered­ity and religion prevent social assimilation,

b. “Japanese government claims all Ja­panese, no matter where born, as its citizens, thus preventing political assimilation.

c. “Individually and in mass with op­portunity offered and even when born under the American flag, they have shown pro­nounced antagonism to assimilation.”  

2. After his extensive tour of Hawaii in July, 1923 the late Congressman Charles F. Curry of California stated:

 “I do not think there is any possibility of Americanising the Hawaiian Japanese who were born in Japan.  While a majority of them may not wish to return to Japan, they are nevertheless loyal to the Mikado ant their government, and Japan is first in their thoughts at all times.  This is only natural in as much as they speak an alien language and live among the alien people.

“In so far as the native-born Japanese are concerned; that portion of them who are sent back to Japan for their education and return to the United States just before the time when they would be required for army service are also alien in thought and sympathy.  Same result must be expected of those who are educated even in Hawaii under the alien influences.  Public Schools in Hawaii should exert their utmost endeavour to correct these evils. Y.M.C.A. and Sunday Schools are called upon to pay particular attention to them.

 “I am convinced more than ever that aliens ineligible to citizenship should be ex­cluded in the future, and that an immediate stop should be placed upon the bringing of ‘picture brides’.  All Oriental influences must be stamped out.

 3. In this argument against the injunction proceeding instituted by the language schools against the Act 36, ex-Governor W. F. Frear said:            

 “The most important problem of this territory is the character of the children who are to become our future citizens.  Whether Hawaii will have a commission form of government, or whether she will be granted statehood will be largely determined by the character of our future citizens. Will these citizens of Oriental descent act as the United States citizens or as the subject of Japan, or as citizens half-American and half-Japan­ese is a most Important problem?”  

Today the questions of commission form of government and the statehood are being widely discussed.  Naturally the qualifications and loyalty of our second-generation are seriously questioned.  We can easily surmise that President Roosevelt came here primarily to make a personal check on the problems of our second generation.  

 “To the eyes of those who came here to give us an once-over, do the Japanese in Hawaii seem to be making honest efforts assimilate, and are they actually assimilating?  Or as Mr Frear feared, does it look as though the Japanese are trying their outmost to become subjects of Japan or citizens half-American?  Are we able to pass these tests? 

“When a person is living in a room of a large family, he must follow the rules of that home.  Otherwise he can never get along harmoniously with the others living in the home.  We are living today in a corner of American territory under the protection of America and are enjoying many privileges.  We have an obligation to perform.  That is we must try to assimilate and bring our children up into good and loyal American citizens.  In a sense our boys and girls are adopted children of America, and we must see to it that they become simon-pure American citizens.  If we perform this task sincerely we would be rendering a great service to both America and Japan.”  

On the eve of his departure from Seattle, Viscount Kikujiro Ishii said: 

 “The Americanisation campaign which is now going on in the United States is a nation-wide movement. As long as you are residents of America you must make your status clear.  If you desire to assimilate, you must make up your mind to live here permanently. If you can not assimilate, you ought to return to Japan.” 

 Today Japanese in Hawaii are displaying Japanese spirit in full colour. This may be the reaction of the rise of nationalism in Japan.  Many of the Japanese schools have become Japanised.  Imperial rescript is boldly read and taught in some of the schools.  Some teachers have openly declared that they are teaching Japanese spirit through the medium of the Japanese language.  This audacity may he the result of their mistaken idea of victory in the legal battle.  If the Japanese go on in the present conditions, they will fail miserably in the test. Politically and socially America may oppress the Japanese. The doors of Canada, Australia and South American countries may be closed more and more tightly.  We must think more of the future and remove every obstacle that hinders our real progress.  

  All sorts of suggestions on the ways and means of celebrating the Fiftieth anniversary of the first landing of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii have commenced to appear in the various newspapers.  It is a splendid thing to observe this memorable day.  As a fitting celebration can the Japanese throughout the territory get together and work for the radical change our community?  As Ishii has said: “Let’s remove every trace of alien influence and attitude” and expatriate all our children from their allegiance to Japan.  Then we will be declaring to the world that the “Japanese can truly assimilate” and that “our children can become loyal citizens.”  This will be more suitable work than having a noisy festival.    


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