File No. 811.52/292.

The Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Japanese Ambassador.2


Among the more important pending questions that confronted me when I assumed charge of this Department, was the issue resulting from the enactment last year of the Legislature of California respecting alien real property ownership. The measure, as you are aware, undertook in effect to draw a distinction in the matter of such ownership between aliens belonging to different races. The avowed purpose of the law was, on the one hand, to annul the then existing right of ownership so far as Japanese subjects were concerned and, on the other, to continue the right in favor of aliens of the white and black races.

I have given the subject my most serious consideration and am consequently well satisfied that the enactment in question is not only in disregard of the letter and spirit of the existing treaty between Japan and the United States of America, but is essentially unfair and invidiously discriminatory against my countrymen and inconsistent as well with the sentiment of amity and good neighborhood which has always presided over the relations between the two countries. Nor can I escape the conviction that the said enactment which was intended to have international effect is also in excess of the authority of the State of California for the reason that the separate States of the United States are, internationally speaking, wholly unknown and entirely without responsibility. In any case, the Imperial Government are confident that such action as complained of stands without historical parallel, and they are happy to believe that the legislation in question forms no part of the general policy of the Federal Government, but is the outcome of unfortunate local conditions. I therefore fully concur in the views which you, in pursuance of instructions from my predecessor, presented to the Honorable the Secretary of State on the subject.

I also cordially appreciate the motives which in the interest of international conciliation and good will induced Baron Makino to give favorable consideration to the idea of concluding a convention regarding the matter. But the project, as it stands at the present time, instead of composing existing misunderstandings, would, I [Page 427] fear, tend to create new difficulties. Accordingly, you are instructed to inform Mr. Bryan that the Imperial Government are disinclined to continue the negotiations looking to the conclusion of a convention on the lines of the project which has been under discussion, but that they prefer to recur to the correspondences which were interrupted by the ineffective negotiations, and that they will now look for an answer to the note which you handed to Mr. Bryan on the 26th August last, hoping that in a renewal of the study of the case a fundamental solution of the question at issue may happily be found.

The negotiations looking to an adjustment of the matter in dispute by means of a convention having failed, the advantage of still withholding from the public the correspondences that have passed between the two Governments on the subject is no longer apparent. You are consequently also instructed to announce to the Secretary of State that the Imperial Government desire to make public the correspondences in question, believing that fuller and more accurate information regarding the matter will contribute to the final settlement of the controversy.

You are authorized in carrying out the above instructions to hand a copy of this note to Mr. Bryan.

  1. A copy delivered to the Secretary of State on June 10, 1914.