Japanese Immigrant Pre-War Experience

     The Japanese were a major focus of California politics in the 50 years BEFORE World War II. 

    ... The Japanese were a small immigrant group, who lacked political saavy.   
   .... Racial feelings of many Californians frequently combined with resentment at the Asian immigrants' willingness to work for low wages made them an easy target to bully.

...."Public perceptions and misconceptions about the Japanese in this country were affected by myths and stereotypes—the fear of "the YELLOW PERIL" and .... misunderstanding of the cultural patterns of the Japanese in America. Resentment of effective economic competition also inflamed public feeling and, combined with differences of language and culture, left the small minority of Japanese Americans on the West Coast comparatively isolated—a ready target at a time of fear and anxiety...."(1)
March 26, 1790 - The U.S. Congress  Act of March 26, 1790; "any alien, being a free white person who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the U.S.  for a term of 2 years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof." 
     The Chinese began immigrating into the U.S. under adverse conditions in the middle of the 1800's, several decades BEFORE significant Japanese immigration began. California was at the center of American discrimination against the Chinese and, later, against the Japanese.

1870 -Approximately 10% of California's population was Chinese; Chinese immigrants were railroad laborers; nearly 10,000 unemployed Chinese after completion of the transcontinental railroad line.  Depressed labor market and anti-Chinese feelings spread and became vocal. Financial recession was blamed on "cheap Mongolian labor," and protests were directed against the Chinese and their employers.

1871- California Republican and Democratic parties had anti-Chinese themes in their platforms. An independent California  workingmen's party was organized around the Chinese  population and anti-Chinese control.

1873 - "Persons of African Nativity or Descent" added to the Congress Act of March 26, 1790. 

May 6, 1882 - Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act; stopped Chinese immigration for 6 decades. 
Immigration and naturalization of the Chinese was not permitted until 1943, when the U.S. became an ally with China in WW II.
1885 - Hawaiian sugarcane plantation owners recruit Japanese laborers; they begin to  arrive 

1890-Population: 2,039 Japanese immigrants and native-born American citizens of Japanese ancestry in the U.S.

1891 - Japanese immigrants arrive to the U.S. mainland;  mostly working as agriculture laborers 

June 27, 1894 - A U.S. district court rule;  Japanese immigrants cannot become U.S. citizens;  they are not "a free white person" (Naturalization Act of 1790 requirement) 

1897-1899-The Alaska Gold Rush drained the Pacific northwest of labor needed to link Seattle and Tacoma with the east by railroad, so Japanese laborers were needed.

[Similar to other immigrant groups, the Japanese immigrants settled in their own ethnic neighborhoods, founded their own school, churches, banks, and cultural organizations. Real estate property was not sold to the immigrants by the non-Japanese.]

1900-Population: 24,326 Japanese immigrants and native-born American citizens of Japanese ancestry in the U.S.

May 7, 1900 - First large anti-Japanese protest in California; organized by several labor groups. 

February 23, 1905 - Headlines on front page of San Francisco Chronicle, "The Japanese Invasion: The Problem of the Hour"  

May 14, 1905 - First organized anti-Japanese movement group, The Asiatic Exclusion League is formed in San Francisco. 

October 11, 1906 - The San Francisco Board of Education passed a segregation resolution; segregated Chinese, Japanese, and Korean ancestry children   

1901-1908-Population (unrestricted immigration): 127,000 Japanese in the U.S.

1908 - "Gentleman's Agreement" signed by the U.S. and Japan; stopped migration of Japanese laborers into the U.S. 

1913 - California Alien Land Law passed in the Assembly;  "All aliens ineligible for citizenship" are forbidden from owning land. (Later 'leasing' of land was also forbidden; 12 other states adopted similar laws.)

1920 - California Alien Land Law passed; attempt to close loopholes in the 1913 Alien Land Law. 

[The vast majority of the Japanese immigrants were young adult males from the agricultural class— young men who left the impoverished country of Japan. They worked on small, individual plots of land, and they possessed knowledge on cultivation, soil conditions, use of fertilizers, skill in reclaiming land, irrigation and drainage. These attributes enabled them to successfully cultivate and develop the wastelands and introduce new crops on the West Coast states. The immigrant Japanese fisherman introduced a radical change in the fishing industry. Their occupations were manual but their hard work, thrift, respect for education and social stability were a firm foundation for a better economic future. (1)]

1922- The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ozawa v. United States, upheld the U.S. government’s right to deny U.S. citizenship to Japanese immigrants. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution assured to everyone born in the U. S. the rights and privileges of citizenship without regard to the status of one's parents.

1940- Population: 111,000 Japanese Americans in the U.S.  82,000 are immigrants; 29,000 were born in the U.S (American citizens).

[Japanese Americans controlled less than 4% of California’s farmland, and produced more than 10% of the total value of the state’s farm resources.]
1. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/personal_justice_denied/chap1.htm
4.Daniels,Roger. The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion. University of California Press; 1st ed. (March 2, 1999)
9. www.uwec.edu/geography/Ivogeler/CCL.../4-racism-japanese.pdf