Chapter 1 Before the beginning: Early history of Japanese emigration (2)

Argument for colonial emigration and emigration policies of the Government

Takeaki Enomoto's argument for colonization

In June 1887, Kakugoro Inoue, a disciple of Yukichi Fukuzawa, purchased land in the Sierra Nevada, in the United States and brought approximately 30 people from Hiroshima to settle them there, and then in 1889 Tatsuji Arai brought 50 people from Kumamoto to Washington State in the United States, (both attempts had met with failure). All those who emigrated before then had no private property of their own and education and lived in poverty in Japan and had no choice but to engage in hard labor in mines or on farms overseas to earn money.
Takeaki Enomoto, who became Minister for Foreign Affairs in May 1892, presented his argument for colonization that it should be encouraged not to ship temporary emigrants who intended to earn money and then return home, but to purchase or lease land in foreign countries and settle emigrants there as Japan-funded projects. For the realization of those projects, Enomoto attempted to implement policies including the establishment of the Department of Immigration in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the conduct of field research to identify suitable countries for colonization. After Enomoto resigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs, his successor, however, continued these policies.
After resigning as Minister for Foreign Affairs in February 1893, Enomoto established the Settlement Society and planned the creation of a Japanese colony in Mexico (the so-called "Enomoto Colony") in search of his ideal. The Nichiboku Takushoku Gaisha (Japan-Mexico Colonization Company) was established and purchased land in annual installments, and 34 emigrants took a voyage to Mexico in March 1897. The project, however, fell through due to a lack of financial capital.

Emigration policies of the Government

In terms of emigration of workers who intended to earn money and return home, there were some arguments for it that it contributed to poverty reduction and acquiring foreign currency, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of emigration had consistently argued that it should not be positively encouraged on the grounds that because emigrants were engaged in slave-like labor and poor Japanese people with a low level education were ignorant of culture and customs in foreign countries, without consideration continued habits acquired in their home country, and failed to assimilate, they were prone to cause friction, which might damage national pride and cause a diplomatic conflict.
The Imin Hogo Kisoku (Regulations on the Protection of Emigrants) were issued in 1894 (Imperial Ordinance, No. 42 of 1894) and superseded by the Emigrant Protection Act in 1896. Both the ordinance and the act were intended to protect emigrants from dishonest emigration agents by restricting emigration through the creation of systems relating to emigrant visa issuance, the confirmation of labor contracts of workers emigrating on the base of the contracts and the emigration agents’ obligation to pay a deposit to the Government.
In November 1898, the Board of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, an advisory committee to the Minister for Agriculture and Commerce adopted the policy that because Japan did not currently have sufficient national power to implement colonization with its own funds, the shipment of emigrant workers for the purpose of earning money should not be encouraged, while the rights of those who were already overseas should be protected.
In 1907, the Government amended the Emigrant Protection Act to allow emigration companies to provide necessary funding to acquire large tracts of land abroad, manage farms, ship Japanese emigrant workers there, employ them, and then several years later sell the land in lots to them to settle them as a project. This amendment, however, was not intended to oblige the Government to encourage colonial emigration positively, in addition to overseeing emigration business activities and protecting emigrants.

Japanese exclusion in North America and Australia

Japanese exclusion in North America and Australia

Because in the U.S. mainland wages were higher by far than in other coutries and areas (according to "Kaigai Dekasegi Annai" (Guide to working overseas) published in 1902, a rickshaw man earned on average 40-50 sen (=0.4 to 0.5 yen) per day in the provinces in Japan, whereas a fruit picker in the U.S. mainland earned 2 to 3 yen, while a worker at a rubber or coffee plantation in Peru earned about 1 yen) and working conditions were better, the U.S. mainland was the most popular for emigrant workers. From 1887 onwards, there was a rapid increase in the number of emigrant workers who made a voyage to the United States to earn money and return home, the number of Japanese residents in the United States exceeded 2,000 people in 1890 and then the number reached 6,000 people in 1895 and 35,000 people in 1899. But, with the increase in the number of emigrants, wages decreased in the U.S. mainland as a result of the inflow of low-wages Japanese emigrant workers, and those emigrants maintained Japanese customs and practices which Americans felt unpleasant, and the “yellow peril”, alleging the rise of Mongoloids as a threat, became a major issue after the Russo-Japanese War. These factors lead stronger Japanese exclusion in the United States.

Conclusion of the Japan-United States Gentlemen's Agreement

In February 1900, emigration to the United States and Canada was banned by the Government and this measure temporarily quieted anti-Japanese movements in these countries. A rapid increase in the number of emigrants migrating to the U.S. mainland from Hawaii, Mexico and Canada after the Russo-Japanese War, however, caused public schools in San Francisco to segregate students of Japanese descent. In response to these circumstances, the U.S. president issued an order in March 1907 based on the Revised Immigration Act, which banned Japanese and Korean immigrants with passports issued for migration to Mexico, Canada and Hawaii, from entering the U.S. mainland, and in return for the ban, students of Japanese descent were reintegrated into public schools in San Francisco. In December, Foreign Minister of Japan, Hayashi and U.S. Ambassador to Japan O'Brien exchanged notes (the so-called "Japan-U.S. Gentlemen's Agreement") and in the Agreement was agreed a policy of refusing to issue visas for the U.S. mainland to Japanese emigrant workers other than for settled agriculturists (understood by the U.S. Government as "small farmer capitalists") and those who would come to join family members already residing in U.S..
Prohibition of migration from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland resulted in a rapid increase in the number of migrants from Hawaii to Canada, and the Japanese Government concluded an agreement with the Canadian government in December of the same year which voluntarily restricted the migration to Canada.

Japanese exclusion in Australia

Japanese exclusion also occurred in Australia and the Japanese Government prohibited emigration to Thursday Island, Queensland in June of 1907 as well as emigration to the Queensland's mainland in August. After the federalization, immigration declined sharply as a result of the enactment of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 which required immigrants to pass the dictation test consisting of writing a dictated passage of 50 words in a European language based on the White Australia Policy.
When various countries shut the door on Japanese immigration and as a result Peru became the only destination country to which emigration companies provided services, expectations rose for Brazil as a potential emigration destination.