1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments


Meadprosperitysharingsystem001eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Here’s something very interesting I found while researching other things, and the first step I’m taking to start grounding my research in a Hawaiian context.  An old essay in a plantation-era manual on “sharing prosperity” amongst the capitalists in the islands, talking about Japanese newcomers and second-generationers.  Written more than 100 years ago, it offers perspectives long before their time, and also attitudes more inclusive than I would anticipate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Here are the pages scanned (click on image to expand in browser), with full text retyped below them:



(By Wallace K. Farrington)
From “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers”, by Royal D. Mead, 1912

One of the favorite fads of the alarmists is to point with fear and trembling to the large number of Japanese children who are supposed to be growing up in the Territory of Hawaii, and who are expected, by the alarmists, to control the electorate at some future day.

Japanese born in the Territory may of course elect to accept American citizenship and vote. Theoretically they might overwhelm the population other than Japanese-American. But it is to be supposed that people of other races and nationalities will not cease to grow and increase.

The facts are that there is a steady exodus of Japanese children born in these islands to the homes of Japanese parents in Japan. In other words a very large proportion of the Japanese send their children back to Japan as soon as they are old enough to travel.

This is proved by the statistics. For the seven years from 1905 to 1911 inclusive the departures of Japanese children for Japan from the port of Honolulu exceeded the arrivals by 6,734. In other words excess of Japanese children born in the islands and sent back to the home of their parents in Japan amounted to about one thousand a year for seven years. This exodus is going on continually.

It is true that the parents of many of these children previous to their being sent away take out certificates of birth showing that they were born in Hawaii.

The records of the office of the Secretary of the Territory gives the fol-lowing totals of certificates of Hawaiian birth, which it should be understood is merely a record of American birth, for the years under comparison:



Year Males Females Total [if difficult to understand, click on pages above to see original charts]

1906 60 6

1907 16 0 16

1908 353 42 395

1909 715 68 783

1910 2611 325 2936

1911 7 8 15

3708 443 4151


Year Males Females Total

1907 213

1908 437

1909 404

1910 7 6 13

1911 011

17 11 28

It thus appears that less than two-thirds of the excess of Hawaiian-born Japanese who were sent back to the homes of their parents took out certificates to establish the fact that they were born on American territory.

The purpose of securing these certificates is undoubtedly to assure these children the right of free entry to the United States should at any future time rules be laid down by Japan or the United States to restrict the movement of the Japanese laboring classes between the two countries.

The Hawaiian-born Japanese as shown by the records of the Japanese consulate in Honolulu for the years 1905 and 1911 inclusive a period of seven years, amounted to a total of 18, 775 divided as follows:

Year ….. 1905 1906 1907

Male ….. 1167 988 1134

Female … 1070 933 1045

Total ….. 2237 1921 2179

1908 1909 1910 1911 Grand Total

1505 1578 1668 1608   9, 648

1365 1428 1832 1454   9, 127

2870 2006 3500 3062   18, 775

Taking into consideration the death rate for this period, it would be safe to say that during the seven years, inclusive, a surplus of ten thousand Japanese children male and female remained in the Territory of Hawaii to become citizens of the United States.

If none other than Japanese children were born in Hawaii from year to year the alarmists might have some ground for their fear. The Portuguese-American and the Hawaiian-Americans are more prolific than the Japanese, and there is also the Chi-nese-American and the Caucasian races to be taken into account. It should also be borne in mind that there is a steadily increased influx of Americans from the mainland.

To claim or expect that these Japanese children will control the electorate in the sense of voting as a unit is preposterous.

It should be remembered that these children are attending the American schools. They are instructed in the English language. They are in their play and in the work associated with the American children of all classes and thus are growing up in an American atmosphere.

On this point we quote from an article by Prof. M. M. Scott, principal of the McKinley High school and a foremost educator of Hawaii for many years. This article was published in a previous issue of the Bulletin “People and Places of Hawaii. ” In this Mr. Scott says:

“To show more clearly the voting population in the near future, it may not be amiss to give the statistics of the school population for the year taken from the report of the superintendent of Public Instruction: nationalities: Hawaiian,4767; half-castes, 3691; American, 999; British, 189; German, 265; Portuguese, 4777; Scandinavian, 67; Japanese, 6095; Chinese, 2797; Porto Ricans, 447; Korean, 168; unclassified, 594.

“It will be seen from this table that nearly 9000 of the approximate 25, 000 children in all the schools, both public and private are Orientals, i. e., Japanese and Chinese. There are no compiled figures ready at hand to show the number of these two nationalities born here. Most of the Japanese native to the territory are of very recent birth, as it is for the last few years only that the Japanese brought their women folk here. They are a Virile and fecund race. Though most of the Japanese in Hawaii are young and vigorous men in the prime of manhood, either unmarried or have left their wives in Japan, yet last year were born 3024 Japanese children in this territory.

“There are some that are concerned lest these children, growing up here will not assimilate to American ideals. They have too intense a patriotism for their own country, it is said. Such criticism ignores a well established truth that those who have no love for their native land or race, will not become patriotic adopted citizens. The Japanese have ever been a loyal people. Under feudalism, they were almost fantastically loyal to their feudal lord. Feudalism being abolished, their loyalty was with equal zeal transferred to the Emperor—to Japan as a whole. Ambassador Uchida recently touching Honolulu on his way to Washington, advised the Japanese boys born here, and intending to live here, to become patriotic American citizens.

“The American public school is the great assimilating crucible, which transfuses and blends the various nationalities. How could it be otherwise? One language, one literature, one playground, the same songs, manners and customs—coupled with mild and just laws, giving equal opportunities to all, irrespective of race.

“Nor is this mere theory. There have been born in Hawaii both Chinese and Japanese, educated here to man’s and woman’s estate, and, going back to their own country, have found themselves entirely at variance and out of sympathy with things there. Provision is made in Hawaii for the sound education of all its youth of all nationalities, in a public school system not surpassed in any state or territory of the mainland. Education is free and compulsory. A school is kept open for forty-two weeks in the year in the remotest country districts. It would he an anomaly to find an adult Hawaiian who can not read and write, most of them in both English and Hawaiian. This laudable foresight in providing means for the training of the young originated with the early missionaries, whose descendants, many of whom are now men and women of wealth and social influence, are leaders in all the activities that make for the betterment of the rising generation of all our races. Interest in education is not confined to any one class. Planters, business men, lawyers, doctors—all urge upon every legislature the importance of generous provisions for the education of the youth of the land. ”

There is nothing in evidence thus far to show that the Japanese-American citizen will not make as loyal and trustworthy an American as the other races and nationalities that have been absorbed by the American body politic and are now numbered among the Americans who set the highest standards of citizenship.

Of course Hawaii is doing something new in this connection. But the first fruits of the Chinese-American gives every promised that the American influence in Hawaii over the Oriental of the Far East will be as bene-flcient and will develop as certainly a good and loyal American as the Americanism of the Eastern and Middle States in its influence on the Oriental of the Asia Minor, Russia and the population of what is in general terms the Near East.

No American need worry over the future of Hawaii’s Americanism if the present immigration policy, agreeable to both Japan and the United States, is followed out. That is, to allow Hawaii to assimilate what Oriental population it already has, and at the same time balance the proportions by allowing, for a time a larger immigration of toilers from Europe.


11 comments on “1912 essay: “Japanese Children are no Menace in Hawaii” (from a “Prosperity-Sharing System for Plantation Laborers” handbook), with surprisingly inclusive arguments

  • Baudrillard says:

    “One of the favorite fads of Ishihara etc is to point with fear and trembling to the large number of Chinese and NJs who are supposed to be getting the local vote in Japan, and who are expected, by the alarmists, to control the Japanese electorate at some future day, and then vote to secede or join some islands with China.”

    Oh the irony.

    Irony aside, the article you have posted leads directly to the reasons for internment of Japanese Americans in WW2. And again ironically, the infamous Niihau incident, in which three Japanese Americans sided with a downed Japanese Zero pilot in Hawaii. It was noted at the time at the SPEED at which the Japanese American was persuaded to the Japanese cause-

    Historian Gordon Prange notes that it was “the rapidity with which the three resident Japanese went over to the pilot’s cause” which troubled the Hawaiians. “The more pessimistic among them cited the Niʻihau incident as proof that no one could trust any Japanese, even if an American citizen, not to go over to Japan if it appeared expedient.”[13]

    Novelist William Hallstead argues that the Niʻihau incident had an influence on decisions leading to the Japanese American internment. According to Hallstead, the behavior of Shintani and the Haradas were included in a Navy report. In the official report, authored by Navy Lieutenant C. B. Baldwin and dated January 26, 1942, Baldwin wrote, “The fact that the two Niʻihau Japanese who had previously shown no anti-American tendencies went to the aid of the pilot when Japanese domination of the island seemed possible, indicate likelihood that Japanese residents previously believed loyal to the United States may aid Japan if further Japanese attacks appear successful.”[14] wikipedia

    Irene Harada ” maintained her innocence, but added in an 1992 interview with Japanese TV that she felt sorry for the pilot and wanted to help him.[10]”

    Strange kind of innocence….oh well, maybe its a “cultural difference”. Onna no Kokoro, even.


  • Jim di Griz says:

    That’s an interesting article that’s shows that Japanese right-wingers immigration fears are unfounded……or are they?

    I mean to say, look at Baudrillards #1 comment. Those Japanese Americans saw it as totally natural to help an enemy during a time of war, just because he too was ethnically Japanese.
    Maybe this incident tells us something about how strong the myth fantasy of ‘Japanessness’ is, and how it over-rides all other rational concerns.

    In fact, if people like Ishihara are aware of this type of behavior caused by the influence and power of the myth of Japaneseness, maybe they don’t understand that thier worldview is distorted, and would expect NJ in Japan to act exactly the same way the Japanese Americans in Hawaii did in the war- illogically prioritize ethnicity above all logical concerns.

    The Japanese right-wingers are projecting onto NJ thier own negative attributes.

  • Well, you know that these days Hawaii has a bit of a reputation of being a place when only those of either Hawaiian or Japanese familial descent are considered “true Hawaiians”

    Do your feel any of that ‘othering’ also there in Hawaii Dr. Debito? I hope not.

    — Yes, sometimes. But not every day like I felt in Japan.

  • Traditional Japanese identity is based on race.
    Most Japanese strongly believe that NJ, regardless of their ties to Japan, at time of crisis, will revert to support of their “own kind” to the detriment of Japanese people (1923 Great Kantō earthquake anyone?).
    This colors all discussions of China, NJ in Japan, etc.
    Like many of your open-minded posters here, team Abe, and much of Japan think that everyone thinks like them. They can’t / don’t understand why NJ in Japan would act differently than Japanese people living overseas.

    This article points out that
    1) Hawaii was surprisingly forward-thinking over 100 years ago, and
    2) Culturally Japanese people, even overseas, will bow to perceived power (like in Niihau), and as such, clearly alarmed the American military in 1942.
    3) Even today, the tendency (among younger Japanese) to go along with the group is very strong.

  • Richard Solomon says:

    Courses on Japanese history which I have attended at the University of California have noted that the Japanese living in Hawaii at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor were not interned. The rationale was that there was no substantial evidence of their tendency to be disloyal to the USA. Also, that they were such a large proportion of the population of the Islands that it would have been far too disruptive to try to intern them in camps of some kind. It was done on the West Coast from largely racial prejudice and economic greed. The White politicians saw it as a way to segregate the Japanese Americans and to take their property away from them.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    @ JDG, #2

    Um, I’m not so sure that’s the main reason why they got arrested and incarcerated shortly after the Pearl Harbor. I think many of those were pretty much loyal to their adopted country, but they were treated with skepticism, primarily due to national politics of race at that time.

    What’s more interesting to me is that those Japanese kids who were born and raised in Hawaii moved to the homeland of their descendants (either based on their choice or family decision). I wonder how the imperial government treated them upon arrival. I mean, were they treated quite similarly with John Manjiro or any delegates who got interrogated by the officials and subsequently detained in the solitary confinement for living too long in the west.

  • Baudrillard says:

    “Most Japanese strongly believe that NJ, regardless of their ties to Japan, at time of crisis, will revert to support of their “own kind” because that is what they would do. As in Niihau after WW2.

    They are projecting.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    @ Baudrillard #7

    I think that comment is absolutely correct. It might not be what Japanese would do, but it’s what Japanese right-wingers believe that Japanese would do, and therefore project that onto NJ in Japan. It isn’t helped when people like Ayumi Hamasaki make a big song and dance about divorcing her NJ husband to return to Japan after the Fukushima disaster because ‘I am Japanese’, and people like Don Keene has to be here because he ‘feels that he is Japanese in his heart’, thus reinforcing the right-wingers broken, perverted world-view.

  • Baudrillard says:

    @ Jim, Ayu Hamasaki UGH. So fake, and I absolutely have to comment on her postmodern irony and how it ties in with right wingers- from the net
    “On January 16th, Hamasaki Ayumi announced through her official fan club site, “Team Ayu“, that she is divorcing her husband Manuel Schwarz.
    TEAM AYU? Sounds like team Japan in micro, but I digress.

    The two met back in August of 2010 during a shoot for “Virgin Road“, when Manuel starred in the PV as Ayu’s husband. Then on January 1st of 2011, the couple tied the knot at a small chapel in Las Vegas.

    So, they simulated a quick Kokusai kekkon in the filming, and then life imitated “art”. Now thats postmodern fakery.

    “I wish to inform you theat i,(SIC) ayumi hamasaki, instructes my lawyer to file for divorce on my behalf in the united states today.

    At the time of our marriage, my husband and I decided to live in the united states. However,approximatetely two months later eastern japan was struck by a huge earthquake. As a result of this tragedy, I felt an overwhelming need to stay in my home county, and was forced to leave my husband alone for a long time.”

    So, love of Japan trumps love of husband. See Niihau incident, above.

    However, as time has passed we have grown apart. I no longer feel the same desire to move to the united states. (sic)”

    So its all about the attraction of moving to the United States? What about love of husband? Oh yeah, he wasn’t a real husband, coz Njs don’t really count and he was from the video? Lucky there were no kids, would love to have seen how the Hague Convention would have played out when a J celeb is involved.

    Compared to this calculating J Idol, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian seems like a completely non cynical love match!

    But I think the meaning of this is that she is one more Kawaii Nationalist, a pin up for the Techno-Disneyland soft Fascism zeitgeist that has characterised Japan on and off since as long as I can remember, but definitely since 2000 onwards.

    And what has she actually done for the people of Fukushima? Sent them a free download?

    — This is okay (as we are talking about the disingenuousness of citing Fukushima as grounds for divorce with a NJ), but let’s be careful not get too much into gossiping agbout and slagging off celebrities on Debito.org.

  • Jim di Griz says:

    @Baudrillard #9

    My personal opinion is the same.
    But the interesting thing about her story is how the ‘mass-gomi’ covered it.
    Just like a government press briefing, they repeated her story with no analysis (which my cynical mind tells me it deserved).
    Why was this?
    Because she said the magic words; ‘love of Japan’!
    From Ishihara to Hashimoto, these are the magic words that put even the most offensive, absurd comment immediately beyond reproach.

  • Baudrillard says:

    Jm, no analysis by the J-media is the norm- I used to work in radio and was absolutely not allowed to say I didn’t like — anything –lest it offend someone. Of course “its ok to say you like something”. So as a result most radio, for example, just play music and say inane stuff like “that was released in 1976, from their album blah blah” etc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>