File No. 894.4054/22

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of Labor

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of September 29, 1917, relative to a new phase of the subject of the marriage of Japanese women to men of that race residing in this country.

You cite the cases of several men of Japanese race who claim to be citizens of the United States by virtue of having been born in Hawaii and who desire to bring into Hawaii Japanese women to whom they have been legally married, according to Japanese law, by correspondence.

This Department agrees with the opinion expressed in your letter under acknowledgment, that although it may be conceded that with respect to subjects of Japan, the Japanese law authorizes and gives validity to marriages of this kind, nevertheless it Would seem consistent and proper that persons residing in, and claiming citizenship of, the United States should be required to observe the laws of this country.

[Page 875]

As a solution of this difficulty I have the honor to suggest that these women be admitted the same as other “picture brides”, but that, since the husbands are American citizens, a marriage ceremony in conformity with the law of the United States be required also.

In this connection I have to call your attention to a statement in your letter of September 29 which is apparently erroneous so far as concerns Japanese women. At the bottom of page 3 you say:

Moreover, it should not be overlooked that the foreign born wife of a United States citizen acquires the citizenship of her husband immediately that the marriage takes place.

It is the understanding of this Department that a Japanese woman does not acquire American citizenship by marriage to an American citizen, since under the law of the United States persons of Japanese race cannot become naturalized citizens of this country.

I have [etc.]

William Phillips