The Japanese Immigrants' Experience In California

The Japanese Immigrant Experience in California

The Nineteenth Century was a time of great change for Japan and the Japanese people. In 1853, an American naval flotilla under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry appeared suddenly in what is now called Tokyo Bay. Perry carried with him a letter from American President Millard Fillmore. Addressed to the Emperor of Japan, the letter demanded that the Japanese Empire open up its ports to American vessels or face the consequences. For more than two hundred years, a feudal Japan had kept herself in virtual isolation, her entire foreign intercourse restricted to a handful of Chinese and Korean ships, and one Dutch vessel a year at the ...

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fates of India and China, and numerous other non-Western countries, the new Japanese government, known as Meiji after the new Emperor's reign name, set about modernizing the country as quickly as possible. Following the Western example, Japan adopted the latest in technology, establishing an up-to-date military, modern industries, transportation, communication, agriculture, education, and healthcare. In response, the population of Japan grew dramatically, with many Japanese suffering the pangs of modernization, economic dislocation, and social upheaval. For many, emigration was their only option, and California their destination of choice.
In response to modernization and the end of the old regime, Japan's population increased dramatically. At the end of the Tokugawa Era in 1867, the country's population was somewhere around twenty-eight or twenty-nine million[1], but by the end of the of the Meiji Period (1867-1912), Japan's first modern age, it had risen to nearly ...

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seemed to offer the most spectacular benefits - plenty of work, lots of open land, and a pleasant climate.

The earliest immigrants were predominantly young males, most of whom came as sojourners intent on gaining wealth quickly and returning to Japan as persons of status. They came on the whole from farming and small trades backgrounds, especially from the southwestern prefectures such as Hiroshima, Kumamoto, Yamaguchi, and Fukuoka. In America, the owning classes of the Pacific Coast welcomed this new source of cheap labor, for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had shut off their previous source. With the help of Japanese labor contractors, hundreds of workers were recruited into ...

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Added: 2/7/2016 03:02:35 AM
Category: Social Issues
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