Although European workers were treated preferentially, most of them left for the American mainland when their three-year contracts expired. Few stayed on in Hawaii. The Portuguese were the exception. The majority had come to Hawaii with their families intending to settle. The Portuguese came from a country close to the African continent and were swarthy, so the Hawaiian sugar planters did not recognize them as percent white, but they did consider them best suited to oversee Asians in the fields.
Three months before the start of the first Oahu strike on January 29, , a committee investigating agriculture in Hawaii sent a report to the secretary of agriculture in Washington, D. There are some things about the Japanese situation in Hawaii that I believe the President should know. We are having industrial troubles with this race and there have been threats on the part of the Japanese of murder, assassination and destruction of plantation properties by fire, although thus far nothing more serious than to be a concerted effort to get all the Japanese laborers in Hawaii to go on a strike, has come of it.
The report, conveying the sugar planters' alarm about the Japanese laborers, was forwarded by the secretary of state to the secretary of the interior and on to the president. It forecast that strikes were coming in Hawaii. From the planters' perspective the attitude of the Japanese laborers was threatening. When the strike began, for example, it was not unusual to see editorials such as the following in the Japanese-language newspapers.
Now is the time to act in the spirit of national unity to assert our comrades' prestige and our comrades' rights. Even if, as you might say, we must endure coarse food, as subjects of the greater Japanese empire we will not flinch in standing up for a righteous cause. The Japanese are a people with the world's most fearsome perseverance. As long as they have rice and salt they can keep alive. In the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars, our heroic officers and soldiers sustained themselves for many months eating almost nothing but rice and pickled ume plums.
That demonstrated our national glory in the world. During the strike opponents called those demanding wage increases "agitators," "irresponsible men," "opportunists," and "outlaws"; similarly, those who were against the strike were called "planters' dogs," "planters' pigs," "insurgents," "traitors," and "Czarist spies. The number of Japanese immigrants increased sharply after the Russo-Japanese War.
In , 30, Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii, slightly more than the 29, who had come during the nine-year government-sponsored contract labor system. The majority were younger sons of farming families, who had returned safely from the war. The government in Tokyo as well as prefectural governments fanned an "American fever" among these returning veterans. But the arrival of these immigrants, who had survived the battlefield, not only incited anti-Japanese feelings on the American mainland, it brought a sudden increase in the number of Japanese groups with patriotic names in Hawaii as well.
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The book most often packed in the trunks of these former soldiers was Sen Katayama's Tobei annai Guide to Going to America , a slim volume of seventy-nine pages first published in The initial printing of two thousand copies sold out in one week, and the book went through many subsequent printings, becoming a best-seller of the day. Its message was forthrightly patriotic. It is my deepest belief that our fellow Japanese who depart their country and brave the vast wild ocean to enter another land, engage in business abroad, and make themselves economically viable are the most loyal to the Emperor and patriotic among our countrymen.
Katayama, who had returned to Japan after spending more than a decade living and studying in America, was a Christian Socialist. The back cover of Tobei annai carried an advertisement for Rodo sekai. His argument for emigration was well within the bounds of a nationalist argument, which expected the emigrants to return to Japan. Not all the Japanese immigrants who crossed the Pacific were field laborers or ambitious students. The United States, particularly the West Coast, was also a haven for those whose political views were too radical to be tolerated by the authorities at home.
At first many were refugees from the "popular rights movement," which had fought to force the Japanese government to adopt a constitution establishing a popularly elected national assembly. By the early s Japanese with more extreme views began to arrive on the West Coast. The San Francisco region, including the city of Oakland across the bay, became a hotbed of antigovernment political malcontents. It is likely that the activities of these Japanese on the West Coast heightened the anxieties of the Hawaiian sugar planters and territorial officials. It began, "We demand the implementation of the principle of assassination.
Bombs are all around you, about to explode. Farewell to you.
This head-on attack against the authority of the emperor system shocked both Prime Minister Kimmochi Saionji and elder statesman Aritomo Yamagata, who immediately called in the head of the supreme court and the chief prosecutor to demand a review of the control of socialists. The incident sharply changed the attitude of the Japanese government toward leftist movements. The following year secret documents identifying "dangerous persons requiring close scrutiny" were prepared by the Police Bureau of the Home Ministry for distribution within the government.
Socialists, anarchists, and communists were to be put un-. It is of particular interest that in this secret document are to be found many reports about "those residing in the U. He had been imprisoned for five months for violating press ordinances in articles written for the Heimin shinbun Commoner's Paper , and after his release from jail he left for America to recover his health.
With Oka's help, Kotoku made contact with American socialists and anarchists. What most influenced him during his stay were San Francisco's Great Earthquake, which occurred six months after his arrival, and his contacts with the Industrial Workers of the World IWW , an organization that found its way into the Police Bureau's top secret report. The mainstream of the American labor movement was represented by the American Federation of Labor AFL , the largest labor union since its founding in The AFL took as members only skilled laborers and tended to exclude people of color.
The IWW was formed in opposition to the AFL and welcomed members regardless of nationality, race, religion, or gender.
An epoch-making federation, it included those abandoned by the AFL, those at the bottom of society, unskilled laborers, blacks, and new Asian immigrants unable to speak English. Unlike the moderate AFL, which put cooperation between labor and management first, the IWW adopted a strong ideology stressing that there were no common interests between employer and employee and that the mission of the working class was to "abolish the capitalist system.
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From its inception, the American authorities put the IWW under close scrutiny as a radical group. Kotoku contrasted his impressions of the IWW and AFL as "idealistic versus realistic, revolutionary versus reformist, radical versus moder-. He had become an advocate of the revolutionary methods of syndicalism. By urging a strategy of direct action imported from America, Kotoku hoped to reinvigorate the socialist movement, which was being stifled under intense repression from the authorities.
Although the two men were opponents within the socialist movement, and although their personalities and ways of life were quite different, they were cordial toward one another in a foreign land. Katayama had been in the United States and Europe since December He had just returned to America after attending the Sixth International Socialist and Trade Union Congress in Amsterdam, where he served as vice-chairman along with the Russian representative. The congress had unanimously passed a resolution opposing war.
During his stay in the United States, Katayama had planned to lead a group of immigrants to open up rice cultivation in Texas, but this plan ended in failure. However, he had succeeded in forming socialist groups among Japanese immigrants in Seattle and other areas on the West Coast. Just before his return to Japan in Kotoku had organized a socialist revolutionary party whose party membership register included the names of fifty-two persons from San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, Chicago, Boston, and New York.
The incendiary open letter posted on the consulate door in San Francisco was instigated by a member of this group.
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Having promoted his ideas freely in the United States where he could evade the Japanese authorities, in what seems to be an irresponsible decision, Kotoku summarily returned to Japan. The explosion of free thought he stimulated drew the attention not only of Japanese officials but also of American authorities. Even before the open letter incident, the socialist revolutionary party had created a furor by publishing an article suggesting the assassination of the American president in its organ, Kakumei Revolution.
Japanese publishers—Japs favor killing of President Roosevelt. In he led five thousand Japanese seasonal migrant grape pickers in a strike demanding better working conditions and wage increases. Four months before, Japanese immigrants had participated in a strike started by Mexicans in the sugar beet fields of southern California.
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Although the strike was quickly suppressed, the new involvement of Japanese laborers with the IWW attracted the notice of American authorities. It was against this background of radicalism and labor unrest among Japanese workers on the mainland that the Oahu strike began. An editorial in the paper strongly supported the strike: "This strike is the only way to struggle against capitalists. Neither did the Police Bureau's secret report list any activists related to Hawaii.
The first Oahu strike ended in failure when all of its leaders were arrested. Soon after the strike, however, working conditions improved when treatment of workers on the basis of racial discrimination lessened and wages were increased. But the strike also spread anti-Japanese sentiments among the Hawaiian governing elite. The "Japanese problem" in Hawaii eventually came to the surface in the late s in the controversy surrounding the oversight of the Japanese-language schools. As a participant in World War I, America had gone through a campaign of "one nation, one flag, one language.
According to the records of the Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu, on February 28, , twenty-eight-year-old Noboru Tsutsumi arrived in Hawaii to take up a post as principal of a local Japanese-language school. Two and a half years later his name also turned up in the records of the General Intelligence Division of the Bureau of Investigation renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in in Washington, D. The division had been established by Attorney General A.
Palmer in June after a series of bombings at the homes of high-level government officials. Charged with gathering information about revolutionary and ultra-radical groups, the General Intelligence Division was placed under the direction of J.
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Edgar Hoover, who had entered the bureau a scant two years before. Fulfilling Palmer's expectations in short order, Hoover set up a master file of all radical activities, making it possible "to determine or ascertain in a few minutes the numerous ramifications or individuals connected with the ultra-radical movement.
Bluntly put, the activities of the Bureau of Investigation were the by-product of the "red scare" that followed the Russian revolution.