History of Japanese Americans

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Japanese Day parade in Seattle, during the Alaska–Yukon–Pacific Exposition of 1909

Japanese American history is the history of Japanese Americans or the history of ethnic Japanese in the United States. People from Japan began immigrating to the U.S. in significant numbers following the political, cultural, and social changes stemming from the 1868 Meiji Restoration. Large-scale Japanese immigration started with immigration to Hawaii during the first year of the Meiji period in 1868. Online</ref>[1]

Timeline[edit]

The Hilo Japanese Immigrant's Assembly Hall. Built in 1889, today located in Meiji-mura museum, Japan.

Significant Japanese immigration to the United States did not begin until the late nineteenth century. However, there is evidence to suggest that the first Japanese individual to land in North America was a young boy accompanying Francisican friar, Martín Ignacio Loyola, in October 1587, whilst on Loyola’s second circumnavigation trip around the world. Japanese outcasts Oguri Jukichi[2] and Otokichi[3] are believed to be the first Japanese citizens to reach present day California in the early nineteenth century.[4] Anyhow, history of Japanese Americans is considered to have begun in the mid nineteenth century.

Japanese American history before World War II[edit]

Immigration

Significant Japanese immigration to the United States did not begin until the late nineteenth century. However, there is evidence to suggest that the first Japanese individual to land in North America was a young boy accompanying Francisican friar, Martín Ignacio Loyola, in October 1587, whilst on Loyola’s second circumnavigation trip around the world. Japanese outcasts Oguri Jukichi and Otokichi are believed to be the first Japanese citizens to reach present day California in the early nineteenth century.[15]

Major Japanese immigration the U.S. only really began in 1853. This was due to the success of Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan where he successfully negotiated a treaty opening Japan to American trade. Further developments included the start of direct shipping between San Francisco and Japan in 1855 and established official diplomatic relations in 1860.[16] Japanese immigration to the United States was mostly economically motivated. Stagnating economic conditions causing poor living conditions and high unemployment pushed Japanese people to search elsewhere for a better life. Japan’s population density had increased from 1,335 per square in 1872 to 1,885 in 1903 intensifying economic pressure on working class populations.[17] Rumours of better standards of living in the “land of promise” encouraged a rise in immigration to the U.S. Only fifty-five Japanese were censored living in the United States in 1870 however by 1890 there had been two thousand new arrivals. The numbers of new arrivals peaked in 1907 with as many as 30,000 Japanese immigrants counted (Economic and living conditions were particularly bad in Japan at this point as a result of the Russian-Japanese wars of 1904–5).[18] Japanese immigrants who moved to mainland U.S. settled on the West Coast primarily in California.[19]

Nonetheless, there was a history of legalized discrimination in American immigration laws which heavily restricted Japanese immigration. The Naturalization Act of 1790 specified naturalization of 'any alien, being a free white person', and this was interpreted to prohibit Chinese immigrants from being American citizens. Japanese immigrants were exempt from the interpretation of this legislation. However, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had a more significant impact on Japanese immigration as it left room for 'cheap labour' and an increasing recruitment of Japanese from both Hawaii and Japan as they sought industrialists to replacement Chinese labourers. [20]. 'Between 1901 and 1908, a time of unrestricted immigration, 127,000 Japanese entered the U.S.'[21] However, as the number of Japanese in the United States increased, resentment against their success in the farming industry and fears of a "yellow peril" grew into an anti-Japanese movement similar to that faced by earlier Chinese immigrants.[22] Increased pressure from the Asiatic Exclusion League and the San Francisco Board of Education, forced President Roosevelt to negotiate the Gentlemen's Agreement with Japan in 1907. It was agreed that Japan would stop issuing valid passports for the U.S. However, Japanese women were allowed to immigrate if they were the wives of U.S. residents. This agreement curtailed Japanese immigration to the U.S. Japanese immigration to the U.S. effectively ended when Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924 which banned all but a token few Japanese people. The ban on immigration produced unusually well-defined generational groups within the Japanese American community. Initially, there was an immigrant generation, the Issei, and their U.S.-born children, the Nisei Japanese American. The Issei were exclusively those who had immigrated before 1924. Because no new immigrants were permitted, all Japanese Americans born after 1924 were — by definition — born in the U.S. This generation, the Nisei, became a distinct cohort from the Issei generation in terms of age, citizenship, and English language ability, in addition to the usual generational differences. Institutional and interpersonal racism led many of the Nisei to marry other Nisei, resulting in a third distinct generation of Japanese Americans, the Sansei.[23] [24][25]It was only in 1952 that the Senate and House voted the McCarran-Walter Act which allowed Japanese immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens. But significant Japanese immigration did not occur until the Immigration Act of 1965 which ended 40 years of bans against immigration from Japan and other countries.


Anti-Japanese sentiment

Discriminatory Anti-Oriental attitudes have historically been part of popular sentiment in the United States especially on the West coast. Resentment was based on racial feelings and as well as resentment of immigrants' willingness to labour for low pay and economic competition as a result of Japanese success in labouring industries such as Agriculture. Anti-Japanese feelings were largely concentrated in California. Between 1901 and 1920 it was an extremely heterogenous state. The state's population compromised of culturally insulated and isolated immigrant communities and as a result Californian society was unintegrated, unstable and loosely organised. Lack of integration led to more distinguished cultural, linguistic differences between minority Oriental Japanese and white European groups. As a result, public hostility was based on the fear of 'yellow peril' and 'antagonist misunderstandings' of Japanese cultural differences to the model American in American society.[26] Sources show that anti-Japanese sentiment publically came known in 1900 with local labour groups calling a major anti-Japanese protest in San Francisco on May 7th 1900. This anti-Japanese racism become increasingly xenophobic after the Japanese victory over the Russian Empire in the Russo-Japanese War (1905–6). The Asiatic Exclusion League (1905) and the Californian Board of Education passed a regulation whereby children of Japanese descent would be required to attend racially segregated schools.

Influential figures such as the Mayor of San Francisco, James Phelan, aligned themselves with this popular discontent claiming:

‘The Japanese are not bona fide citizens. They are not the stuff of which American citizens can be made…we have nothing against Japanese but as they will not assimilate with us and their social life is so different from ours, let them keep at a respectful distance.’ [27]

Also, anti-Japanese was felt in various industries, Japanese success and dominance in Agriculture in the late nineteeth and early twentieth century was deemed a threat to personal stability and family life and so there was an increased pressure by the general public calling for discriminating law enforcement such as the Californian Alien Law of 1913 prohibiting Japanese immigrants from owning land. (see section on Agriculture).

Federal immigration and Naturalization laws during the twentieth century demonstrated the public hostility to Asians and later internment of Japanese Americans in relocation camps in 1942 due to a national sentiment of 'disloyalty' cemented feelings of Anti-Japanese sentiment (see section on Internment)

Farming[edit]

Japanese-Americans have made significant contributions to agricultural development in Western-Pacific parts of the United States, especially in California and Hawaii. Similar to European American settlers, the Issei, the majority of whom were young adult males, immigrated to America searching for better economic conditions and the majority settled in Western pacific states settling for manual labour jobs in various industries such as ‘railroad, cannery and logging camp labourers.[28] [29] The Japanese workforce were diligent and extremely hardworking, inspired to earn enough money to return and retire in Japan.[30] Consequently, this collective ambition enabled the Issei to work in agriculture as tenant farmers fairly promptly and by ‘1909 approximately 30,000 Japanese labourers worked in the Californian agriculture’.[31]This transition occurred relatively smoothly due to a strong inclination to work in agriculture which had always been an occupation that had been looked upon with respect in Japan. Progress was made by the Issei in agriculture despite struggles faced cultivating the land, including harsh environment problems such as harsh weather and persistent issues with grass-hoppers. Economic difficulties and discriminating socio-political pressures such as the anti-alien laws (see California Alien Land Law of 1913) were further obstacles. Neveretheless, second-generation Nisei were not impacted by these laws as a result of being legal American citizens, therefore their important roles in West Coast agriculture persisted [32] Japanese immigrants brought a sophisticated knowledge of cultivation including knowledge of soils, fertilizers, skills in land reclamation, irrigation and drainage. This knowledge combined with Japanese traditional culture respecting the soil and hard-work, led successful cultivation of crops on previously marginal lands.[33] [34] According to sources, by 1941 Japanese Americans ‘were producing between thirty and thirty-five per cent by value of all commercial truck crops grown in California as well as occupying a dominant position in the distribution system of fruits and vegetables.’[35]

The role of Issei in agriculture prospered in the early twentieth century. It was only in the event of the Internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 that many lost their agricultural businesses and farms. Although this was the case, Japanese Americans remain involved in these industries today, particularly in southern California and to some extent, Arizona by the areas' year-round agricultural economy, and descendants of Japanese pickers who adapted farming in Oregon and Washington state.[36] Agriculture also played a key role during the internment of Japanese Americans. World War II internment camps, were located in desolate spots such as Poston, in the Arizona desert, and Tule Lake, California, at a dry mountain lake bed. Agricultural programs were put in place at relocation centres with the aim of growing food for direct consumption by inmates. There was also a less important aim of cultivating 'war crops' for the war effort. Agriculture in internment camps was faced with multiple challenges such as harsh weather and climate conditions however, on the most part the agricultural programs were a success mainly due to inmate knowledge and interest in agriculture. [37] [38] Due to their tenacious efforts, these farm lands remain active today.[39]

Internment[edit]

Posted Japanese American Exclusion Order.jpg
Juneau High School valedictorian John Tanaka received his diploma at a special graduation ceremony at the school's gymnasium in Juneau, Alaska in April 1942 prior to his internment. He was unable to attend actual graduation the next month due to evacuation orders.

During World War II, an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals or citizens residing in the United States were forcibly interned in ten different camps across the US, mostly in the west. The Internment was a 'system of legalized racial oppression' and were based on the race or ancestry rather than activities of the interned. Families, including children, were interned together. Each member of the family was allowed to bring two suitcases of their belongings. Each family, regardless of its size, was given one room to live in. The camps were fenced in and patrolled by armed guards. For the most part, the internees remained in the camps until the end of the war, when they left the camps to rebuild their lives.[40][41]

World War II service[edit]

Rohwer Director Ray Johnston congratulates George Kiwashima on his decision to volunteer in the United States Army, while Captain John Holbrook and two other Japanese-American volunteers look on.

Many Japanese Americans served with great distinction during World War II in the American forces.

Nebraska Nisei Ben Kuroki became a famous Japanese-American soldier of the war after he completed 30 missions as a gunner on B-24 Liberators with the 93rd Bombardment Group in Europe. When he returned to the US he was interviewed on radio and made numerous public appearances, including one at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club where he was given a ten-minute standing ovation after his speech. Kuroki's acceptance by the California businessmen was the turning point in attitudes toward Japanese on the West Coast. Kuroki volunteered to fly on a B-29 crew against his parent's homeland and was the only Nisei to fly missions over Japan. He was awarded a belated Distinguished Service Medal by President George W. Bush in August 2005.

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion is one of the most highly decorated unit in U.S. military history. Composed of Japanese Americans, the 442nd/100th fought valiantly in the European Theater. The 522nd Nisei Field Artillery Battalion was one of the first units to liberate the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Hawaiʻi Senator Daniel Inouye was a veteran of the 442nd. Additionally the Military Intelligence Service consisted of Japanese Americans who served in the Pacific Front.

On October 5, 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion, as well as the 6,000 Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service during the war.[42]

Post-World War II and redress[edit]

In the U.S., the right to redress is defined as a constitutional right, as it is decreed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Redress may be defined as follows:

  • 1. the setting right of what is wrong: redress of abuses.
  • 2. relief from wrong or injury.
  • 3. compensation or satisfaction from a wrong or injury

Reparation is defined as:

  • 1. the making of amends for wrong or injury done: reparation for an injustice.
  • 2. compensation in money, material, labor, etc., payable by a defeated country to another country or to an individual for loss suffered during or as a result of war.
  • 3. restoration to good condition.
  • 4. repair. (“Legacies of Incarceration,” 2002)

The campaign for redress against internment was launched by Japanese Americans in 1978. The Japanese American Citizens’ League (JACL) asked for three measures to be taken as redress: $25,000 to be awarded to each person who was detained, an apology from Congress acknowledging publicly that the U.S. government had been wrong, and the release of funds to set up an educational foundation for the children of Japanese American families. Eventually, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 granted reparations to surviving Japanese-Americans who had been interned by the United States government during World War II and officially acknowledged the "fundamental violations of the basic civil liberties and constitutional rights" of the internment.[43]

Under the 2001 budget of the United States, it was decreed that the ten sites on which the detainee camps were set up are to be preserved as historical landmarks: “places like Manzanar, Tule Lake, Heart Mountain, Topaz, Amache, Jerome, and Rohwer will forever stand as reminders that this nation failed in its most sacred duty to protect its citizens against prejudice, greed, and political expediency” (Tateishi and Yoshino 2000).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ James I. Matray, "Japanese Americans." in Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, (3rd ed., vol. 4, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003), pp. 462–465. Online
  2. ^ Schodt, Frederik L. (2003). Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan. Stone Bridge Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-880656-77-8.
  3. ^ Frank, Sarah., Filipinos in America(Minnesota, 2005)
  4. ^ Van Sant, VE., 'Pacific Pioneers: Japanese Journeys to America and Hawaii, 1850–80'(2000)
  5. ^ Jones, Terry.,The Story of Kanaye Nagasawa(1980), pp. 41–77
  6. ^ A Digest of Constitutional and Synodical Legislation of the Reformed Church in America, Board of Publication of the Reformed Church in America, 1906
  7. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 30
  8. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 30
  9. ^ "Edmonston Maryland: A Bridging Community". Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  10. ^ Mary Granfield (6 August 1990). "Hiroshima's Lost Americans". People. Time, Inc. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Kaufering IV – Hurlach – Schwabmunchen". Kaufering.com. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  12. ^ USHMM photos of Waakirchen with 522nd FA BN Nisei personnel and rescued prisoners
  13. ^ "Milestones for Women in American Politics | CAWP". Cawp.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  14. ^ Frank, Sarah., Filipinos in America(Minnesota, 2005)
  15. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 30
  16. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996)
  17. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), pp. 25–37
  18. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000)
  19. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 30
  20. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000)
  21. ^ Anderson, Emily. "Anti-Japanese exclusion movement," Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16-07-2014.
  22. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) pp. 27–46
  23. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), pp. 25–37
  24. ^ Muller, E. L., The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II (North Carolina, 2007)
  25. ^ Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 31
  26. ^ Spickard. Paul. R., Japanese Americans: The Formation and Transformations of an Ethnic Group (2009)p. 63
  27. ^ ’Kashima, T., ‘Nisei and Issei’, in. Personal Justice Denied (2nd edn, United States of America, 2000) p. 30
  28. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), p. 27
  29. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), pp. 26–27
  30. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), pp. 25–37
  31. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), p. 29
  32. ^ Lillquist, Karl,. 'Farming the Desert: Agriculture in the World War II-Era Japanese-American Relocation Centers', Agricultural History 84.1 (2010), p. 75
  33. ^ Graff, H.F., ‘The Early Impact of Japan upon American Agriculture’, Agricultural History 23.2, pp. 110–116.
  34. ^ Masakazu, Iwata,. ‘The Japanese Immigrants in California Agriculture’, agricultural history 36.1 (Jan 1996), p. 26
  35. ^ Ingram, Scott,. Asher, Robert., 'Immigrants (Immigration To The United States)'(Nov 2004)
  36. ^ Lillquist, Karl,. 'Farming the Desert: Agriculture in the World War II-Era Japanese-American Relocation Centers', Agricultural History 84.1 (2010), p. 74-104
  37. ^ Telling Our Stories: Japanese Americans in the San Fernando Valley, 1910's – 1970's, (accessed 21 January 2020: http://www.discovernikkei.org/en/nikkeialbum/albums/241/?view=list)
  38. ^ Ingram, Scott,. Asher, Robert., 'Immigrants (Immigration To The United States)'(Nov 2004)
  39. ^ Nagata, D. K., Kim, J. H. J., & Wu, K., ‘The Japanese American wartime incarceration: Examining the scope of Racial Trauma’, American Psychologist 74(1) (2019), pp. 36–48
  40. ^ Muller, E. L., The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II (North Carolina, 2007)
  41. ^ Steffen, Jordan (October 6, 2010). "White House honors Japanese American WWII veterans". The Los Angeles Times
  42. ^ "Civil Liberties Act of 1988". Archived from the original on 2012-01-17.

Text of the Immigration Act of 1907

Further reading[edit]

  • "Present-Day Immigration with Special Reference to the Japanese," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (Jan 1921), pp. 1–232 online 24 articles by experts, mostly about California.
  • Chin, Frank. Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889–1947 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).
  • Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Washington, GPO: 1982)
  • Conroy, Hilary, and Miyakawa T. Scott, eds. East Across the Pacific: Historical & Sociological Studies of Japanese Immigration & Assimilation (1972), essays by scholars
  • Daniels, Roger. Asian America: Chinese and Japanese in the United States since 1850 (U of Washington Press, 1988) online edition
  • Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camps, North America: Japanese in the United States and Canada during World War II (1981).
  • Daniels, Roger. The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese Movement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Exclusion (2nd ed. 1978)
  • Daniels, Roger, et al. eds. Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress (2nd ed. 1991)
  • Easton, Stanley E. and Lucien Ellington. "Japanese Americans." in Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America, edited by Thomas Riggs, (3rd ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2014, pp. 537–5550 Online
  • Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas (1995). The Japanese American Family Album. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512423-5.
  • Ichioka, Yuji. "Amerika Nadeshiko: Japanese Immigrant Women in the United States, 1900-1924," Pacific Historical Review Vol. 49, No. 2 (May, 1980), pp. 339–357 in JSTOR
  • Ichioka, Yuji. "Japanese Associations and the Japanese Government: A Special Relationship, 1909–1926," Pacific Historical Review Vol. 46, No. 3 (Aug., 1977), pp. 409–437 in JSTOR
  • Ichioka, Yuji. "Japanese Immigrant Response to the 1920 California Alien Land Law," Agricultural History Vol. 58, No. 2 (Apr., 1984), pp. 157–178 in JSTOR
  • Matsumoto, Valerie J. Farming the Home Place: A Japanese American Community in California, 1919–1982 (1993)
  • Modell John. The Economics and Politics of Racial Accommodation: The Japanese of Los Angeles, 1900–1942 (1977)
  • Niiya, Brian, ed. Encyclopedia of Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present. (2001). online free to borrow
  • Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore (2nd ed. 1998)
  • Wakatsuki Yasuo. "Japanese Emigration to the United States, 1866–1924: A Monograph." Perspectives in American History 12 (1979): 387–516.