had lower wages and under poor conditions brought

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had to endurediscrimination, racism, and prejudice from white Americans. They
were first viewed as economic competition. The Japanese
Americans were then forced into internment camps simply because
of the whites fear and paranoia.

The Japanese first began to immigrate to the United States
in 1868. At first they came in small numbers. US Census records
show only 55 in 1870 and 2,039 in 1890. After that, they came in
much greater numbers, reaching 24,000 in 1900, 72,000 in 1910,
and 111,000 in 1920.(Parrillo,287) Most settled in the western
Many families in Japan followed the practice of
primogeniture, which is when the eldest son inherits the entire
estate. This was a “push” factor. Because of primogeniture,
“second and third sons came to the United States to seek their
fortunes.”(Parrillo,287) The promise of economic prosperity and
the hope for a better life for their children were two “pull”
factors. These foreign-born Japanese were known as Issei (first
generation). They filled a variety of unskilled jobs in
railroads, farming, fishing, and domestic services. (Klimova,1)
The Japanese encountered hostility and discrimination from the
start. In California, a conflict with organized labor was due to
their growing numbers in small areas and racial
White workers perceived Japanese as economic competition.

Their willingness to work for lower wages and under poor
conditions brought on hostility from union members. The
immigrants became victims of ethnoviolence. In 1890, Japanese
cobblers were attacked by members of the shoe makers union, and
Japanese restaurateurs were attacked by members of the union for
cooks and waiters in 1892. It was very difficult to find steady
employment; therefore, most of them entered agricultural work.

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They first worked as laborers, accumulated sufficient capitol,
then as tenant farmers or small landholders. Some became
contract gardeners for whites.(Parrillo,287)
The Japanese farmers were very knowledgeable of cultivation,
which made them strong competitors against white farmers. More
discrimination by the dominant group soon followed.

“In 1913, the California legislator passed
the first alien landholding law, prohibiting
any person who was ineligible for citizenship
from owning land in the state, and permitting
such persons to lease land for no more than
three years in succession.”(Parrillo,287)
This was ofcourse aimed at keeping the Japanese in the
working class.

Their native born children, the Nisei (second-generation),
were automatically US citizens. Thus, the Issei had land put
under their childrens names directly or by collectively owning
stock in landholding companies. Discrimination against the
Japanese continued after World War I. The California legislature
passed a law in 1920 “prohibiting aliens form being guardians of
a minors property or from leasing any land at
all.”(Parrillo,288) Yet another attempt by the dominant group to
preserve power.

Japanese American children also suffered racism and
discrimination. In 1905, the San Francisco School Board of
Education passed a policy sending Japanese children to a
segregated Oriental school in Chinatown.(Parrillo,288)
“Superintendent, Aaron Altmann, advised the citys principals:
“Any child that may apply for enrollment or
at present attends your school who may be
designated under the head of Mongolian must
be excluded, and in furtherance of this
please direct them to apply at the Chinese
school for enrollment.”(Asia,1)
Japanese immigrants being extremely racially distinct, had
different cultural customs and religious faith, and tended to
chain migrate and stay within their own small communities. This
aroused distrust and the idea that they could not be
assimilated.(Klimova,2) Japans victory in the Russo-Japanese
war in 1905 fueled the irrational distrust and prejudice. It led
to the Gentlemens Agreement of 1908, secured by President
Roosevelt, which “Japan agreed to restrict, but not eliminate
altogether, the issuance of passports.”(Parrillo,288) This
attempt at reducing Japanese immigration had a huge loophole, it
allowed wives to enter. Many Japanese practiced endogamy and
sent for “picture brides.” “Several thousand Japanese entered
the United States every year until World War I, and almost 6,000
a year came after the war.”(Parrillo,288)
The anti-Japanese attitudes grew stronger. The Immigration
Law of 1924 stated that all aliens ineligible for citizenship
were refused entry. Thus, “…the Japanese migration to America
came to a complete cessation.”(Klimova,2) The law stayed in
effect until 1952.

By 1941, “about 127,000 ethnic Japanese lived in the United
States, 94,000 of them in California.”(Parrillo,289) Only “37
percent were Issei…”(Klimova,1) On December 7, 1941, Japan
launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. When news of the
attack reached the west coast, Japanese neighborhoods were
surrounded by police. Within the first day, the FBI arrested
1,300 dangerous aliens. They had jailed nearly 2,000 more by
the end of December.(Spickard,93) Most of them were business
executives, leaders of Japanese associations and community
leaders whose only suspicious act was visiting relatives in Japan
or contributing to the Japanese equivalent of the United Service
Organization (USO). Those arrested were thrown into

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