811.5294/230

The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State

Memorandum

The Alien Land Law recently adopted in California through the initiative process came into force on December 9, 1920. In so far as it concerns the position of aliens ineligible to American citizenship, it is obviously calculated to add to the rigor and acerbity of discrimination characterizing the cognate statute of 1913.61

It will be recalled that the California enactment of 1913 gave rise to a formal protest of the Japanese Government,62 as being in its manifest intent repugnant to all principles of fairness and justice, [Page 320]and disregardful of the letter as well as the spirit of the existing treaty between Japan and the United States.63 These objections apply to the new law of 1920 with still greater force and cogency, and the Japanese Government are unable to conceal from themselves the sad disappointment with which they view the adoption of that measure. They are moreover apprehensive that California, by such acts of glaring discrimination against Japanese, has blazed a wrong trail in legislation, with consequences which it is difficult to foresee.

They however desire to assure the American Government of their unwavering faith in the supreme importance which they attach to the maintenance of the traditional relations of good understanding between the two nations. While fully realizing the gravity of the difficulties, both actual and potential, consequent upon the California enactments under review, the Japanese Government are confident that, if approached in the spirit of good will and mutual accommodation, the whole problem is susceptible of a satisfactory adjustment consistent with honor and true interests of both countries.

Believing that those views are shared by the American Government, they are gratified that frank and exhaustive discussions of an informal character have been in progress between Ambassador Morris and Ambassador Shidehara at Washington, with the acquiescence of their respective Governments, in an earnest effort to compose the difficulties in question. It is the sincere desire of the Japanese Government that these discussions will soon be brought to a happy conclusion, and that both Governments will be able forthwith to examine and approve plans of adjustment to be recommended by the two Ambassadors.

In the meantime, the development and final outcome of the pending discussions are being looked forward to with confidence in Japan. It is hoped that the American Government will appreciate the degree of forbearance exercised by the Japanese people, no less than by the Japanese Government, in the presence of keen dissatisfaction over the unfortunate legislation in California.

  1. Act of May 19, 1913, of the State of California, ibid, 1913, p. 627.
  2. See ibid, pp. 629 ff., and 1914, pp. 426 ff.
  3. Treaty of Feb. 21, 1911, Foreign Relations, 1911, p. 315.