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Inside History of the Exclusion 

The Fundamental Reasons Which 
Induced Action By Congress 

The Movement to Have That 
Action Reconsidered 

Published by 



910 Humboldt Rank Bldg 

San Francisco 


On May 26th, 1924, President Coolidge approved 
the immigration bill under protest, his protest be- 
ing based on the inclusion in the bill of a general 
provision excluding aliens ineligible to citizen- 
ship. Relying doubtless upon assurances of Sec- 
retary of State Hughes, the President insisted 
that exclusion, so far as concerns Japanese, could 
be accomplished equally effectively and without 
injury to Japan's feelings by agreement, or treaty, 
or by giving Japan place in the quota. Congress 
almost unanimously, and without regard for party 
or district affiliations, held to the contrary. 

Subsequently, in answer to Japan's protest, Sec- 
retary Hughes, in a. dignified, courteous and states- 
manlike document, advised Japan that Congress 
had acted entirely within its rights and without 
any intent to insult Japan or hurt her pride, and 
that the matter was ended. 

President Coolidge, in accepting the Republican 
nomination for re-election August 14th, said: "I 
should have preferred to continue the policy of 
Japanese exclusion by some method less likely 
to offend the sensibilities of the Japanese people, 
f - 1 id what I could to minimize any harm that 
might arise. But the law has been passed and 
approved, and the incident is closed. We must 
seek by some means besides immigration to demon- 
strate the friendship and respect which we feel for 
the Japanese nation. Restricted immigration is 
not an offensive but a purely defensive action. It 
is not adopted in criticism of others in the slightest 
degree, but solely for the purpose of protecting 
ourselves. We cast no aspersions on any race or 
creed, but we must remember that every object of 
our institutions of society and government will fail 
unless America be kept American." 

The Federal Council of Churches of Christ of 
America, acting through its subsidiary organiza- 
tion, the Commission for International Goodwill, and 
with co-operation of various other associations, 
inaugurated a campaign to induce Congress to 

modify the exclusion feature of the Immigration 
Act so as to meet the demands of Japan .\s- 
surances were given Japan hy these organizations 
that President Coolidge and Secretary Hughes are 
opposed to the exclusion measure, that the senti- 
ment of the American people disapproves it, and 
that effort will be made by Japan's friends in this 
country "to have the wrong righted." 

The reaction upon Japan and the Japanese in 
use to the suggestions contained in this cam- 
paign and to direct messages sent Is evident in 
action taken and statements given out, both of- 
ficial and unofficial in character. The Foreign 
Office in Tokyo gave out a statement on August 
IT. which was published in this country, in which 
ii w;is said: "President Coolidge may regard this 
incident as closed, but Japan does not. Japan will 
continue her protests." 

In the belief that a campaign of the character 
referred to would be fruitless in the result desired 
by the organizations which inaugurated it, but 
would increase friction and ill will between the two 
nations, and that the movement was started in 
ignorance of important facts, a brief statement of 
the case was presented for consideration of Japan 
and the Japanese in the following letter to the 
lid it or of *Xichi Bei', of San Francisco, the most 
widely distributed Japanese vernacular daily news- 
paper published outside of Japan: 


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dices and feelings, regardless of conditions and my 
permanent interests, but rather lie who, even a1 
i he risk of injuring nay pride and jeopardizing our 
friendly relations, acquaints me frankly with the 
facts and submits them to my judgment for deci- 
sion. It is in the belief that you entertain similar 
views, and with appreciation of your position as a 
leader of Japanese thought in California, that I 
submit these suggestions for your consideration. 

The Unwise Counsel of Friends 

"In the matter of Japanese immigration to this 
country Japan, in my judgment, has been induced 
within the past six months to place herself in a 
ids. and embarrassing position by listening to 
the unwise counsel of those in this country whom 
she regards as her friends. 

"She was encouraged by these friends to request 
from Congress and this nation action which could 
not be taken without violation of the statutes and 
policies which have governed our conduct in such 
matters since the nation began. She is now being 
encouraged by the *same parties to persist in this 
course with the assurance that the action taken 
by Congress is not endorsed by public sentiment, 
and that therefore repeal or modification of the 
exclusion measure can be readily secured. 

"I do not question the good faith of these friends 
of Japan. I do question their discretion. They 
are either ignorant of, or blind to, the fundamental 
facts and principles in the case. For reasons ex- 
plained hereafter, Congress had no alternative than 
to follow the course adopted, it will not undo what 
has been done, and, under existing conditions, the 
American people will not permit it to retrace the 
steps taken. 

Congress, in this matter, acted in strict accord 
with the long established laws and policies of the 
nation, which have for their object the preserva- 
tion of this country for the white race, as Japan 
is governed in her immigration and other policies 
by the obvious necessity for preservation of Japan 
for the Japanese. Until our laws and policies are 
changed at the demand of public opinion, Congress 
must continue to maintain its present attitude. 

Appreciation of Japan's Feelings 
"I say this with full and sympathetic under- 

— 5_ 

standing of .In pan's position. She feels that what- 
nay nave been the justice of an exclusion 
polic5 directed against the people of Asia, includ- 
ing .Japan, by the United States 100 or even TH) 
years ago, she has, through her own efforts and 
by study of Western methods risen to the position 
of dominant power in Asia and is recognized as 
one of the great World Powers, sitting in council 
• •a equal terms with United States, Great Britain, 
France and Italy. She feels, therefore, that her 
nationals are entitled to preferential treatment in 
the United States over those of other Asiatic na- 
tions, and to equal treatment with the nationals 
«>f Kurope. 

"I do not say there is not some justice in Japan's 
claim. I say only the claim cannot be recognized 
by the United States in the matter of naturali/a- 
i ion and immigration until our fundamental policies 
in such matters have heen changed ; and that any 
efforts intended to secure modification of the exist- 
ing conditions should be directed towards change 
in our fundamental policies rather than in urging 
Congress to violate such policies while still in force. 

Our Naturalization and Immigration Policies 

"The privilege of naturalization was limited by 
Federal Statute in 1790 to persons of the white 
race. After the Civil War that privilege was ex- 
tended by amendment to the black race in the 
effort to solve the problem created by slavery. 
Otherwise, the law has remained unchanged in 
fundamentals ; and members of the yellow and 
brown races are barred from the privilege of 
naturalization today as they were 130 years ago. 
This statute, as applied to Japanese, was upheld 
by a recent decision of the United States Supreme 

"Our immigration policy has been in strict accord 
with the naturalization policy. Whenever the num- 
ber of any branch of the yellow or brown races 
entering this country became large enough to jus- 
tify concern, exclusion measures were adopted 
against it. 

**The Chinese were excluded in 1882, by special 
act of Congress. 

"The. Japanese were excluded in 190 7, under 
tiie Centlemen's Agreement, and at Japan's re- 

— 6 — 

quest in preference to an exclusion law which 
would have hurt her pride. But, as explained by 
President Roosevelt In his autobiography and in 
existing documents, the Agreement was an exclu- 
sion measure designed to prevent further increase 
in Japanese population in continental United 
States, lest economic competition and racial fric- 
tion should create trouble between the two friend- 
ly nations; and it was agreed that should the 
plan fail to accomplish its purpose, an Exclusion 
law should be enacted against Japan. 

*'The Hindus, and other Asiatics of the yellow 
and brown races, were excluded in 1917 by what 
is known as 'the Barred Zone Act.' 

The Gentlemen's Agreement Ineffective 
"These measures have proved effective in ex- 
cluding all immigration referred to except that from 
Japan. The Hindus have ceased to come; Chinese 
population in continental United States has de- 
ed over one half since 1882 ; but the Japanese 
population increased ^between 1907 and 1920 from 
to 110,000 if the United States Census 
B are adopted and from 53,000 to 150,000 if 
the corrected figures for population for 1920 are 
used. (See my Brief prepared for consideration of 
the Department of State in 1921, Sees. 68 to S3). 
Since 1920 there has been material increase, the 
Japanese births alone in Hawaii and California 
amounting to 10,000 per year. 

"Japan declares she has fulfilled the conditions 
of the Gentlemen's Agreement in good faith. It 
is not necessary to question her good faith in the 
matter. It is sufficient to point out that the Agree- 
ment in operation has failed to produce the d<-- 
slred and agreed results; that while it's purpose 
was to prevent further entrance of Japanese for 
permanent settlement and any increase of the 
resident Japanese population, relatives and new 
wives continued to come with the resulting muni- 
tion of population referred to. 

Not Discriminatory 
"Congress determined, therefore, that the agree- 
ment should be cancelled and some effective method 
adopted for securing the agreed result — exclusion. 
Rather than give offense to Japan by enacting a 
special exclusion law against Japanese (which 

— 7 — 

was the agreed alternative if the Agreement failed 
in operation) Congress simply enacted into a gen- 
eral statute! without mention of Japan or the Ja- 
panese, the long established policy of the United 
States in discouraging immigration of aliens In- 
eligible to citizenship, 

"Japan should not regard this action as dis- 
criminatory against her people, since they con- 
siitute less than 8 per cent of the peoples affected ; 
and she has no right to object to the principle 
of exclusion, since she agreed to it in making the 
«jrentlemen*8 Agreement in 1907, and since, in the 
interest of the Japanese, she has found it necessary 
to exclude Chinese and Koreans from Japan. 

"Certainly, this nation, having determined to 
restrict immigration in the interests of assimila- 
tion, has done the obvious and logical thing in 
excluding incidentally aliens wno are ineligible to 
citizenship and who are and must remain hope- 
lessly unassimilable because of that disability im- 
posed by our laws. 

Japan at the instance of presumed friends in 
official and unofficial circles in this country, has 
protested against this action and insisted that the 
result desired could be secured equally well and 
with less hurt to her pride through a new Gentle- 
men's Agreement, or through modification of the 
existing Agreement, or through a treaty, or by 
placing Japan under the quota. 

Agreement, Treaty and Quota 
"The friends who gave Japan this advice were 
- Ither ignorant of the fundamental facts and prin- 
ciples in the matter or deliberately ignored them ; 
for Congress, with full knowledge of these matters 
it, could not and would not pursue any 
other than that adopted. All other plans 
suggested are open to insurmountable objections 
unless an established policy of the nation as to 
naturalization and immigration undergoes radical 
change. This, it is hoped, will be made plain by 
the following statement : 

"Immigration is a domestic question, the regu- 
lation of which, under the Constitution, belongs 
to Congress exclusively. 

"All immigration coming to this country during 
this century save that coming from Japan, has been 
regulated by general or special act of Congress. 

"Any attempt by the Executive Department to 
regulate immigration by agreement, or treaty, is 
an invasion of the Congressional prerogative ; and 
Congress apparently will no longer tolerate such 
invasion, particularly when the obvious intent is 
to violate or evade the established policy of the 

"The Gentlemen's Agreement not only constituted 
an invasion of Congressional prerogative by the 
Executive, but it surrendered the national sov- 
ereignty in conceding to a foreign nation control 
of immigration from that nation. Such a relin- 
quishment of sovereign right is made by no other 
world power, certainly not by Japan ; and the 
United States has made such concession to no 
nation save Japan. These were sufficient rea- 
sons in the judgment of Congress for cancellation 
of the Gentlemen's Agreement, and for refusal to 
consider a similar agreement in the future. 

"To place Japan under the quota can not be 
done without violating the established policy of 
the nation, since such plan would give to certain 
aliens ineligible to citizenship, and excluded there- 
fore as immigrants, the same rights in admission 
as are granted to aliens eligible to citizenship, and 
further would discriminate in favor of one nation 
whose people are ineligible to American citizenship 
while still barring all others ineligible to thai 

"The quota plan had the additional practical 
objection that if the immigration act w 
modified in the future as to admit wives outside 
the quota it would make possible the entrance of 
a flood <>f .Japanese women coming as wives for 
the 40,000 or 50,000 Japanese bachelors in con- 
tinental United States, with a consequent material 
increase of the Japanese population. 

The Position of Congress 
Congress, through a committee consisting of 
the Chairman of the Immigration Committee and 
the Republican and the Democratic leader of each 
house, explained these facts to the President and 
assured him, if he vetoed the bill it would be passed 
over his veto by an overwhelming majority, in 
pursuance of what Congress conceived to be its 
plain duty. It must be remembered, too, that tho 


action of Congress in the matter was due only in 
small part to resentment at the tone of the letter 
written by Ambassador Hanihari, for a poll of the 
Senate two days before that letter appeared 
showed 54 votes (a substantial majority) in the 
Senate pledged to the exclusion of aliens ineligible 
to citizenship, while in the House a much larger 
majority in favor thereof had been conceded for 
some weeks. 

"What la true as to the facts and as to the 
attitude <>f Congress in late May when the Presi- 
dent signed the bill, is equally true today. And 
public sentiment, which generally endorsed the 
principle of exclusion then, is becoming more pro- 
nounced now in its approval of the course taken by 
Congress ;«s the detailed reasons therefor become 

"I submit, therefore, with deference, that it ill 
'•um ports with Japan's dignity to further press upon 
Congress or this nation requests or demands which 
cannot be concede^, jn the face of existing condi- 
tions. It is not the new Immigration Law, but 
our long established naturalization law and the 
immigration policy which follows it that blocks 
the way to Japan's desires. If our naturalization 
law were so amended as to make Japanese eligible 
to eitizenship that provision of the Immigration 
Kill which excludes aliens ineligible to citzenship 
would cease immediately to act as a bar to the 
entrance of Japanese immigrants. 

Investigation Suggested 

"h is as a true friend of Japan, and as one 
who desires to see a permanent continuance of 
friendly relations between Japan and the United 
States, that I suggest a dispassionate considera- 
tion of the suggestions of this letter and an in- 
vestigation of the conditions as herein outlined. 
You will not think me presumptuous in expressing 
the belief that such a course will furnish more 
dependable basis for just and effective action than 
implicit reliance upon the assurances and advice 
of those who, however friendly to Japan, do not 
know, or else choose to ignore, the existing condi- 

"It is unfortunate, too, that lack of knowledge 
of these conditions and of the reasons which in- 

— 10 — 

duced the action by Congress, and a belief that 
it was inspired by dislike for, or intent to injur* 1 or 
insult Japan, or the Japanese, are creating a feel- 
ing of animosity on the part of the Japanese 
people here and in Japan, which, if not eradicated, 
may materially interfere with friendly relations in 
the future. It is important that misunderstanding 
of this character be corrected by authorised state 
ment from responsible sources. 

"You will have noticed that on this side of the 
Pacific every effort has been made Tn prevent 
growth of misunderstanding or ill will ; and that 
the four California organizations most promim-m 
in the campaign for passage of the exclusion fea- 
ture of the Immigration Act. have been equally 
insistent on just and courteous treatment of. and 
friendly relations with, the Japanese who have 
settled in this country practically at the invitation 
of this Government. 

"With appreciation of your friendship and of th« 
efficient work whteb, you have done for your own 
people in California and for the State as well, in 
fostering friendly relations, believe me, 

"Sincerely yours, 


Ml;. K. AHIKO, 
Editor "Nlchl Bei," 
San Francisco, Cat