Discover Nikkei, an Internet resource of the Japanese American National Museum, includes a searchable database of lessons on Japanese American history and culture: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America.
The United States has always been a melting pot of nationalities since the Spanish, British, and French joined the Native Americans in populating America as early as the fifteenth century.
The Start of Japanese Immigration: Some of these workers enjoyed living in an American outpost and decided to continue on to the mainland. Upon arriving in the port cities of Seattle and San Francisco, however, they met with a very different culture than that of the Americans in Hawaii.
Racism was commonplace in the United States; there was far less racial tension in Hawaii since the Caucasian population had always been the minority. The tension on the mainland was mainly caused by the perception that the Japanese were cheap, unfair labor, taking money and strength away from the American labor unions; this argument was unusual because there were few white farm laborers at that time; most farm owners contracted the work out to Mexican and Chinese immigrants.
These changes began to cause tension between the Japanese and American governments. Japan was no longer an agricultural, rural country like China. It was a nation undergoing tremendous growth into an industrial powerhouse, and it was concerned with its international image: Much of this concern did not stem from caring about its citizens; it was more about the prestige of Japan as a nation: In the spring ofmeetings were held in Seattle and San Francisco to promote anti-Japanese actions.
Many of the attendees were prominent citizens of those cities. The San Francisco meeting was organized by the American Federation of Labor; their main argument was economically based. They argued that many of the immigrants arriving at their ports appeared all but destitute; letting in these homeless travelers would only place a burden on Americans.
This war showed a side of Japan that made many Americans nervous. While many continued to use economic arguments to further tensions between Japanese and Americans, some used biological reasons; points like diluting the blood of Americans were accepted and rather commonplace during the time period.
Inthe first segregation law specific to the Japanese went into effect in San Francisco; all Japanese children were to attend Chinese schools only. Blatant discrimination of this nature was so intolerable to Japan that war was the only answer to such a heinous act.
Theodore Roosevelt tried to mollify the Japanese government with a request to California to reverse the law in addition to suggesting to Congress that Japanese nationals be granted American citizenship, though he knew the likelihood of citizenship would not be offered.
California reversed the law, likely because Roosevelt also promised to begin limiting Japanese immigration. This agreement, though mutual, resulted in adding to the tension already mounting between the two governments.
The agreement did allow for the unmarried Issei, or first-generation Japanese immigrants, to bring over brides from Japan; this almost doubled the Japanese population in a very short time. These marriages resulted in the Nisei population, the second-generation Japanese born in America.
The increase in control of the agricultural industry and the increase in the Japanese population, however small in comparison to other nationalities, brought racism to a head in California.
Tokyo was incensed at these exclusions; there were mass protests in Japan and even calls for war. President Woodrow Wilson dispatched Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan to Sacramento in hopes of making California legislators understand how their actions could have national and international ramifications.
They transferred ownership of their land to their American-born children. This initiated a new series of attempts at diplomacy between Tokyo and Washington. Congress was convinced, however, that because of the hold that the Japanese government tried to maintain with its people, that none of the immigrants would ever truly be American citizens and therefore their loyalty would forever be questioned.
The Immigration Act In the spring ofAmerica passed a restrictive immigration act that put annual limitations on the number of immigrants allowed from specific nationalities. These warnings were perceived as threats by some in the American government, and the act passed without changes. The Japanese people and the Japanese government were insulted at the overtly racial act, while some Americans saw this as permission to openly threaten the Japanese living in their country.
More and more incidents of vandalism and violence against the West Coast Japanese were being reported, but the law did little or nothing to stop it. The Japanese and American governments slowly drew apart, ceasing efforts to settle the difficulties between the two countries.
Innewly elected President Franklin Roosevelt was deeply concerned at the Japanese invasion of China. As he made overtures towards reconciliation with Japan, he also gave financial aid to China and undertook a refortifying of the United States Navy: His request was denied.
S, Britain, and Japan, the request was approved. With these funds in hand, Roosevelt began to focus on the possibility of terrorism by the Japanese people on American soil: His efforts focused on. That winter, the Japanese attacked the U.Some of these secondary sources include The Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of the Japanese-Americans During World War II by Audrie Girdner and Anne Loftis, and Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family by Yoshiko Uchida.
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Uchida, Yoshiko, Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese-American Family, () University of Washington Press, ISBN: This story is a compelling autobiographical narrative of injustice, racial prejudice, endurance, and family devotion. In Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family, Yoshiko Uchida blends an autobiography, a review of American war policy during World War II from the Japanese-American point of view.