File No. 894.4054/19

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Labor

Sir: Referring to previous correspondence relative to the applicability of the illiteracy provisions of the immigration law to the so-called “picture brides” coming from Japan, I have the honor to send enclosed for your consideration and such action as may be necessary a copy of a note from the Japanese Embassy replying to the observations made in your letter of June 27, 1917, to this Department.

You will, I feel sure, be interested to learn that Mr. Ransford S. Miller, our Consul General at Seoul, who was for many years the Japanese Secretary of our Embassy at Tokyo and who is familiar with Japanese law and custom, has carefully read the note of the Japanese Ambassador and states that the notification is the document that gives legality to a marriage in Japan; that in the case of marriages of Americans in Japan, which occurs not infrequently, the use or omission of a religious service is entirely immaterial in so far as the requirements of the Japanese law are concerned, which is of course the law recognized by the American Consul General in issuing his certificates. In other words a religious ceremony without the notification does not make a marriage legal and the notification without such a service would. For purposes of notification a form printed in Japanese is employed similar to that used in marriages of the Japanese themselves. The situation in so far as a religious ceremony is concerned would seem to be similar to that in some of our states where it is entirely optional and sometimes omitted, the law taking no account thereof.

As for the use of the private seal by others than the owner thereof but by his authorization, Mr. Miller also confirms the statements in the Ambassador’s note.

It seems to this Department, therefore, that when due notification of the marriage has been made over the seal of the bridegroom the marriage must be regarded as legal and the “picture bride” in such case ought to be received as the wife of the man who is awaiting her arrival in the United States.

I have [etc.]

Frank L. Polk