One of several nativist movements directed against Asian immigration, the “yellow peril” campaign attempted to restrict and remove Japanese immigrants from the United States. The movement strengthened anti-Asian feeling in the United States, strained relations between the U.S. and Japanese governments, and contributed to public support for the federal government’s internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
In 1890, only about 2,000 Japanese were living in North America. Most worked as laborers and farmhands in California and the Pacific Northwest. Despite their minuscule numbers, the use of Japanese to break a labor strike in British Columbia
With the surge of Japanese immigration during the 1890’s, the new century brought increased scrutiny of Asian immigrants. In 1900, new Japanese and Chinese immigrants were quarantined on their arrival on the West Coast on the pretext of health concerns. To protest this action, Japanese businessmen formed the
As California’s state government became concerned with the sudden rise in Japanese immigration, it began investigating the question of whether the Japanese were, in fact, a potential problem. In an effort to forestall some of the difficulties that Chinese immigrants had faced in the United States, the
Through the first few years of the twentieth century, the anti-Japanese movement had focused on the dangers Japanese immigrants posed to American labor. In 1905, a shift occurred that caused the Japanese to be seen a threat to the security of the United States. In the immediate aftermath of the
On October 11, 1906, San Francisco’s city school board ordered students of Japanese descent to attend a school that had been created during the 1870’s for the Chinese. Although this event was little reported elsewhere in the United States, it elicited a strong response from the Japanese government that provoked President
Although Japanese immigrants were never numerically significant along the West Coast, the fear that they represented a threat to the United States continued to grow. One area of Japanese immigrant control that came under attack was their ability to own land. In 1913, California passed a law denying Japanese the right to own land within the state. Supporters of this law hoped not only to prevent Japanese from owning land but also to drive them from the state. The yellow peril campaign continued through the 1920’s and 1930’s and finally came to a head with the entrance of the United States into World War II and the internment of more than 110,000 West Coast Japanese during the war.
Chan, Sucheng. Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Boston: Twayne, 1991. Broad survey of Asian American history that examines aspects of Asian immigration from the 1850’s to 1990. Excellent college-level overview of the subject, with photos, maps, chronology, and bibliography. Daniels, Roger. Asian America: Chinese and Japanese in the United States Since 1850. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1988. Well-written, scholarly account of the experiences of Japanese and Chinese immigrants in America. _______. Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. New York: Hill & Wang, 1993. Analyzes the decision of the federal government to intern Japanese Americans from the West Coast during the war. Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans. Boston: Little, Brown, 1988. Highly readable history of all Asian American communities by a leading Japanese American scholar who drew upon a variety of primary sources, from newspapers to court cases.
Asiatic Exclusion League
Japanese American internment
Native Sons of the Golden State