The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Japan ( Morris )
Your telegram November 19, 7 p.m.
The question of the immigration into the United States of the so-called Japanese picture brides has come into considerable prominence owing to the recent large increase in the number of such women coming to this country. The legality under our law of the marriages of these women is now under investigation. In the meantime Senator Phelan has introduced a bill to amend the immigration act so as to exclude all Japanese laborers, thus substituting an act of Congress for the Gentlemen’s Agreement. In order to avoid the adverse effects on the relations between Japan and America which would result either from a holding that such marriages are illegal or from the [Page 418] enactment of legislation such as has been proposed, I informally advised the Japanese Ambassador on November 20 that as a matter of policy it would be wise for Japan to prevent abuses of this system and I answered affirmatively his informal inquiry whether it would have a good effect if the Japanese Government were to prohibit the entrance of the picture brides into the United States.
I have been gratified to note the statement of the Vice Minister that the recommendation in regard to the discontinuance of the immigration of picture brides would “receive without formal action the tacit and effective support of the Japanese Government.” In order, however, to meet the necessities of a difficult situation this Government should be enabled to give in behalf of the Japanese Government some assurance or authoritative indication which would satisfy the feeling that has been aroused by this question. This Government does not presume to dictate the manner of such an assurance but desires you in your further discussions with the Foreign Office to suggest that it might be most advisable if the Japanese Ambassador here were authorized to communicate to me formally such decision or ruling as the Japanese Government may find it feasible to adopt in order that I may be in a position to announce that that Government has itself taken such steps as will adjust the one phase of the Gentlemen’s Agreement which has not in practice proved satisfactory to our Government.
For your information only. Since Congress reconvenes on December 1 and it is probable that the bill now pending will be pushed rapidly, haste is necessary if legislation on this point is to be averted.