THE recent census shows that, out of a total population of 255,912 in the Hawaiian Islands, 109,269 are Japanese. The increase in Japanese population since 1910 is 29,594, or 37.1 per cent, compared with 18,564 or 30.4 per cent during the preceding decade. The disproportionate number of Japanese in comparison with that of other nationalities in the islands constitutes an intricate and perplexing problem, and a knowledge of the history of Japanese immigration is essential to any proper consideration of the situation.
Diplomatic relations between Japan and Hawaii began with a treaty of amity and commerce in 1871. Scarcity of agricultural labor in Hawaii caused Honorable Charles R. Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to take up with the Hawaiian consul in Tokyo the subject of an arrangement for obtaining laborers from Japan; but nothing came of it until King Kalakaua visited Japan, in 1881, when the Hawaiian Minister of Immigration, Honorable William Nevins Armstrong, initiated negotiations with the Japanese government on the subject of emigration of laborers from Japan to Hawaii.
In 1883 Colonel C. P. Iaukea was accredited to the Court of Japan as Minister Plenipotentiary, for the special purpose of arranging for Japanese immigration, and was instructed by the Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honorable Walter Murray Gibson, in this remarkable manner; —
‘You will please impress upon the mind of the Minister the very exceptional character of these proposals, and the evidence they afford of the high value His Majesty’s government places upon the friendly alliance between this country and Japan, and upon the Japanese race as a repopulating element.'
Later, under date of July 22, 1885, Mr. Gibson wrote to Count Inouye:—
‘I desire in the first place to assure Your Excellency that, owing to the strong desire of Hawaii to settle upon her soil a kindred and kindly people like the Japanese, this government is most anxious to meet the views and requirements of Japan on all points.’
Under date of January 21, 1886, the Hawaiian Consul-General at Tokyo, Mr. R. W. Irwin, wrote to Count Inouye: ‘I accept unreservedly the terms and conditions laid down in Your Excellency’s communication of yesterday, and I am prepared to sign the immigration convention.’
The Hawaiian Minister of Foreign Affairs, under date of March 5, 1886, wrote to Count Inouye: ‘Mr. Irwin unreservedly accepted these stipulations, and I have now the honor to accept his engagement and to confirm on the part of His Majesty’s government the several subsidiary agreements referred to, in so far as may be consonant with the constitution of the kingdom and His Majesty’s treaty obligations with foreign powers.’
Count Okuma in reply informed Mr. Irwin: ‘I accept your assurances in these regards, as well as other particulars specified in your communication, as an authorized statement of the obligations which your government assumes in the premises, and I shall so regard the understanding as binding on our respective governments, subject to the right of revoking same, either in whole or in part, which is specifically reserved to me.’
In 1885 there were less than fifty Japanese in Hawaii; but under the encouragement of the terms of the treaty, the number increased to twenty thousand in ten years, at which time Japan demanded the exclusion of any more Chinese laborers.
Foreseeing future complications, the Constitution of 1887 was made to limit the franchise to ‘ every male resident of the Kingdom of Hawaiian, of American or European birth or descent, who shall have taken an oath to support the constitution and laws, and shall know how to read or write either the Hawaiian, English, or some European language.’
In the following year, 1888, demands for the franchise for the Japanese began, and continued, as a diplomatic bone of contention along the line of favored-nation clauses, until 1893, when Mr. Fujii, Consul-General, made a categorical demand upon President Dole for the granting of the franchise by the Provisional Government — which had superseded the Monarchy — to all Japanese in Hawaii, including field-laborers brought under contract, over whom the Japanese government retained control by withholding 25 per cent of their wages.
President Dole explained that there could be no foundation in law, reason, or the usages of nations for one nation to demand of another, as a right, permission for its subjects to cast off their allegiance and acquire citizenship in another country. The relation of sovereign and subject, state and citizen, comprises an obligation between the governing authority and the individual; otherwise, an overcrowded country could unload its surplus population upon a smaller country, and by the utilization of the enforced franchise eventually and legally absorb the smaller country. This, in the last analysis, would result from the democratic theory that government should follow from the consent of the governed.
Following the establishment of the Republic of Hawaii, the immigration convention lapsed, but Japanese continued to arrive as free immigrants in greater numbers than before, 5129 having arrived in 1896. Matters were reaching a serious condition by reason of the heavy immigration. It was necessary to end a situation which threatened to jeopardize the continued development of Hawaii along Anglo-Saxon lines; and under the terms of the general statutes of Hawaii nearly 1500 Japanese who arrived were denied entrance.
The native Hawaiian population has been disappearing in about the same ratio in which that of the Japanese has increased. Some of the early explorers estimated the native population of the group of islands as high as 250,000; but in 1832 a census was taken, and showed only 130,313. Twenty years later the population had dwindled to 71,019, of whom 2119 were foreigners. Improved agricultural conditions, incident to the reciprocity treaty with the United States, turned the tide, and in 1896 the total population was 109,020, of whom only 39,504 were Hawaiians. The census of 1910 showed only 26,041 Hawaiians, and the new census, that of 1920, shows that the number of natives has declined to 23,723.
While the native Hawaiian race is steadily disappearing, it still exercises power in local political matters through the considerable number of half-castes, born of intermarriages of whites and Chinese with Hawaiians, who now number 18,027 and are steadily increasing. There is practically none of the populating by mixing of races, anticipated when the Japanese were invited to settle in the islands. The Japanese men marry only Japanese women, and their children are habitually registered as Japanese with officials of their own government. A large proportion of them are sent back to Japan for part of their education. The younger children attend both the public schools of Hawaii and private Japanese schools. The number of Japanese women in Hawaii has increased rapidly, — the ratio of women to men having nearly doubled since 1900, — and now is 42.7 per cent. The Japanese have increased in number since the census of 1910 by 29,599, and with Filipinos comprise three fourths of the total increase.
The main elements of population, other than Hawaiians and Japanese, are Chinese, Portugese, Filipinos, Porto Ricans, and Spaniards. Americans, British and Germans have been more powerful in commercial and financial interests than in numbers.
The islands are fertile, their location is of immense and growing importance, and altogether they constitute a vital element in the future problems of the Pacific. The United States arrived at their possession through a process of stumbling, and doubtless the great problems arising from the commercial and strategic position of the islands will be met in the same way.