The Secretary of State to President Wilson

My Dear Mr. President: I have had several conversations recently with the Japanese Ambassador. He is very anxious that we shall make another effort to bring the Japanese question to an end.

You will recall that it was agreed we should attempt to secure the ratification of a treaty which would guarantee to the Japanese now in the country equal treatment with other aliens and thus prevent any other state from passing such laws as California has passed.1

In the original treaty proposed by them there was a clause which would have invalidated the California law insofar as it affected the right of inheritance. I explained to him that any attempt to interfere with the California law would, in all probability, prevent the ratification of the treaty and it was finally omitted. It was the fact that it was omitted that led the new Government over there to withdraw the proposition.

Ambassador Chinda now renews the proposition in another form. The enclosed draft,2 as you will notice, only relates to the future. In Article III you will find the provision:—

“. . . that the settlement of the question regarding Chapter 113,” (California anti-alien law.)3 “shall be sought independently of the present convention, and that nothing contained in this Convention shall in any wise or manner affect such settlement.”

I told him that I thought objection might be raised to this treaty on the ground it did not settle the question, but while he did not say so I think that his idea is that we can get a treaty ratified which will prevent any future legislation against the Japanese and it will be easier to settle this question.

In other words—that, having removed the fear of other legislation, the acuteness of this question will be over.

He also says that he believes simultaneously with this treaty a treaty could be signed such as we have signed with the thirty other countries, providing for investigation in all cases, and he is quite [Page 400] anxious that such a treaty shall be negotiated between his country and ours. I think such a treaty would go a long way toward answering the “jingos” who are always insisting upon our getting ready for war with Japan.

I have explained to the Ambassador that it would be impossible to have this treaty ratified at this session and that, that being the case, it would not be wise to negotiate it before the conclusion of Congress. There is no immediate action necessary, therefore, and you can consider it at your leisure and let me know what you think of the proposal. Believing, as I do, that the states should not be permitted to raise international issues (which they cannot settle by themselves) I am favorable to the principle set forth in the proposed Convention, and I do not believe we will find any permanent settlement of the Japanese question short of some such action.

With assurances [etc.]

W. J. Bryan
  1. For correspondence previously printed on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1913, pp. 625 ff., and ibid., 1914, pp. 426 ff.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1913, p. 627.