The Oriental Threat
CHARLES E. HOPE and W. K. EARLE
SO SUDDENLY has the flood of Oriental immigration risen in British Columbia that its whole history is practically contained within the confines of the present generation, and only those in immediate contact with the phenomenon realize its ramifications and extent.
To gain a correct perspective of the Asiatic influx, it is necessary to take a bird’s-eye view of one of t he mightiest migrations that has occurred in human history.
This Asiatic expansion has extended over thousands of miles of the Pacific coast down beyond the equator, through the colorful East Indies, from California to the Yukon, A glance at the map ..shows that the Japanese Empire extends from Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands in the north, to the mandated Palana, situated just north of the equator.
The four white countries primarily affected by this migration of Orientals are Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The Australians, with characteristic vigor, liave been able to get the situation well in hand, while New Zealand, facing an inundation of similar but small proportions, has been equally successful. The United States Government was long in taking effective action, the agrarian interests most affected having been lulled to inactivity by the promise which seemed to lie in tlie famous Gentlemens Agreement until, in 1920, they awoke to the fact that in California’s four leading agricultural counties—Sacramento, Placer, San Joaquin and ColusaJapanese and their descendants owned from fifty per cent to eighty-five per cent of the irrigated lands. The number of people of Oriental descent in the Pacific Coast States, owing to the enormous birth rate is, according to the 1930 census, 161,882, and in California alone 134,817.
In Canada, our problem is even more difficult than that of the United States, for, although the total Oriental population there is larger—213,778 according to the 1930 census—the total shows only a proportion of one Asiatic to 600 whites, as against one to 150 in Canada (1921 census).
In British Columbia, however, the proportion is catastrophic, being one Asiatic to every twelve whites, according to a census taken by the Provincial Government in 1927.
Action taken so far in this country is utterly inadequate. The Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 legally bars further immigration, but Canada’s Gentlemen’s Agreements with Japan have not prevented a tremendous increase in the numbers of these nationals, accompanied by an alarming acquisition of land and a penetration in many spheres of activity approaching a monopoly.
Our Gentlemen’s Agreement was an informal arrangement by which the Japanese Government undertook to restrict the emigration of its nationals to Canada. This agreement was negotiated in 1907 at the time of the greatest influx. A later Gentlemen’s Agreement reduced the number of immigrants from 400 to 150 per annum, and calls for a visa by the Canadian Embassy in addition to the Japanese Government’s “permit.” Under the latter agreement Canada resumed her sovereign right to regulate the entry into Canada of Japanese immigrants. But we still left with Japan the right to demand entry of 150 of her nationals per annum, a right granted to no other alien country in the world.
Everybody in British Columbia knows that, so far as the original Gentlemen’s Agreement is concerned, there never was at any time any serious attempt on the part of the Japanese Government to live up to it, nor on the part of the various Canadian Governments to enforce it. The agreement is being better observed now, but unless legislation is enacted denying citizenship by birth to all unabsorbable aliens, as is now urged, it is much to be feared that it is like locking the stable door after the horse is stolen.
Although immigration into Canada has been dosed except under special conditions to all nationalities, including
those from the Motherland, Japanese are still continuing to arrive, with no conditions except as called for under the Gentlemen’s Agreement. It would appear that the majority of Japanese now in Canada, arriving under the 400 and later 150 quota, came as agricultural settlers, and were to be limited to those going to work for Japanese land settlers already here. Such were limited to five and ten laborers for every 100 acres owned. No Japanese in 1907 owned 100 acres or anything like it, and even to this day very few own more than ten acres. How, then, did the thousands who arrived since 1907 secure entry? As a matter of fact, the majority never worked on a farm in Canada, but have always been employed in logging, fishing, or retail trade, for which activity no provision was allowed in either of the so-called Gentlemen’s Agreements.
Illegal entry, too, is another story.
The activities of the North West Mounted Police recently unearthed a trail of duplicity and fraud unparalleled in the history of Canadian immigration, which, while not unexpected in British Columbia, will come as a shock to the rest of Canada. And it is believed the end is not yet. Within the last few months there have been no less than five Japanese convicted at the assizes for conspiracy to defraud in connection with falsification of birth certificates, naturalization certificates and passports. In fact the traffic was on a wholesale scale, its ramifications extending into many large cities in Japan as well as in Canada. It included secret cable codes and fees varying from $150.00 to $750.00 per certificate. The activities of these men extended as far back as 1914, and among others, an interpreter in the employ of the Immigration service, Yoshi, has been convicted.
Kuwabara, also convicted, was proved to be instrumental in obtaining 60 or more birth certificates, and probably many others not yet discovered. Of these a very large number were used for obtaining fishing licenses.
The first intimation the public had of this was when the Hon. R. L. Maitland, K.C., introduced at the last session of the B. C. Legislature, as a government measure, an amendment to the Vital Statistics Act. He stated that “hundreds of such false birth certificates have been issued in this province. Japanese have been registering births, which they state took place in B. C. as long ago as twenty-five years. As a consequence many Japanese,who were not bom in B. C. at all, are not only getting fishing licenses, but passport privileges as British subjects.”
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A brief explanation of what all this means will be of interest. Many Japanese living in B. C. left children in Japan who are now almost of mature age, and who could only come to Canada under the quota of 150 per year. Others who have been in the province for some years, but are not naturalized, find it increasingly difficult (and rightly so), to acquire naturalization. There is a distinct advantage in being born in Canada; it gives the right to obtain a fishing license, passport privileges, the right to vote, (except in British Columbia), and generally as several Japanese admitted at the assizes, it improves their Canadian status.
Under the old Vital Statistics Act a birth certificate could be obtained at any time, no matter how long after the birth of the child. All that was necessary was a declaration that he or she was born on a certain date at a designated place in Canada. This made possible fraudulent entry on a wholesale scale. These fraudulent declarations were signed by the father, or in very many cases, by someone who stated that he was the father. The birth certificates were exported to Japan, and in due course brought back to Vancouver, the bearer being admitted as a "returning Canadian” under a non-emigrant status.
The amazing thing is that this was not discovered long ago. Besides the five Japanese convicted at the assizes, several of whom are British subjects, 82 have been deported, and so far as can lie learned, about eleven hundred have concluded Canada is not a healthy place of residence and have returned without the necessity of deportation proceedings.
It is an amazing story of forgery and fraud.
THAT JAPAN has in the past received favored treatment in immigration matters would seem to be due indirectly to the fact that Canada became a party to the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation entered into between Britain and Japan in 1911, and to which the Dominions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa refused to become parties.
In 1881 Canada’s entire Asiatic population consisted of 4,350 Chinese, and no one imagined the influx that would follow. The number of Orientals in the country today is difficult to estimate. The census takers are believed to have an especially difficult task in completing their records, and available census figures for Chinese show a disparity when compared with registrations. These registrations became compulsory when the Chinese Immigration Act went into force in 1924. The census figures of 1921 for all Chinese including Canadian born was 39,587, and 3,133 came in during the next three years, a total of 42,720. Yet in 1930, registrations in Canada totalled 55,706, leaving 12,986 not shown in census returns, i After allowing 4,000 for Chinese away on I re-entry permits a maximum number—and j assuming that every Chinese registered,
I there still remains a difference of 9,000.
Official figures showing the number of ; Orientals that have arrived since 1900 are 161,300 Chinese and 23,749 Japanese. Prior ! to the year 1900, Japanese were almost j unknown here, but after the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05) they came like a flood, and i 7.061 entered in 1908. The large proportion i of women among these immigrants has ! resulted in a juvenile population which in j some districts of intense penetration totals the sum of the youngsters of all other races combined.
To gain a true perspective of this invasion, j it is necessary to observe the difference in methods of the Chinese and Japanese advances.
The former were mostly individual adventurers, opportunists seeking wealth in new lands. None of the passing and precarious governments of their time lias ever worried unduly over the fate of its nationals abroad.
With the Japanese, penetration appeared to be ordered and controlled as though from some central source. It has all the earmarks of the efficiency which characterizes Japanese expansion everywhere. It is orderly, consistent and continuous, planned in a manner possible only with a homogeneous, aggressive, organized and imperially-minded people.
Prominent Japanese here have denied that their Government is behind this movement and they can truthfully do so, because observers of the entire political situation on the Pacific know that the. big interests that stand behind the Japanese army and support the throne are more powerful than the Japanese Government itself.
The functioning of this dual system of government has only recently been understood by nations that can only think in terms of democracy. To state that Japanese diplomacy is beginning to be understood by no means indicates that it is applauded.
An orderly advance is now in progress, carrying a Japanese population along the Fraser valley on both sides of the river and j into the one-time socially exclusive Okanagan.
Many people will learn with astonishment that the Soldiers’ Settlement Board is in some cases settling soldiers’ reverted farms with Japanese.
Poultry inspectors, agricultural and other experts of Japanese nationality are available to instruct and advise the settlers, and vernacular schools are provided in both cities and farming districts.
Japanese Absorption of Trade
HE NUMEROUS FACTS and figures which have been collected fail to provide anything approaching a realistic picture of this movement. As an instance of Chinese penetration, it might be mentioned that on j both sides of the Fraser River between Kamloops and Ashcroft there is a tract of land for forty-five miles where every irrigated farm is either owned or leased by Chinese, with the solitary exception of one white farmer—at least he was there when this article was begun.
In connection with the increase in municipal Oriental trade licenses in Vancouver, a feature is the spreading away from those j districts occupied entirely or largely by j Orientals into the once entirely white I districts. The advance of the Asiatic retail j trader has been recently at the rate of fifteen per cent annually. Moreover, new lines of retail activity are concerned. One by one, the manufacturing trades—clothing, dress! making, boots and shoes, shipbuilding and j the manufacture of aerated waters—are meeting competition from Orientals.
In Vancouver a number of large garages and service stations are operated by Japanese, and new features of their absorption of our trade appear almost daily.
The fisheries a few years ago faced a situation which if not checked would have resulted in the whole industry going over to the Japanese. As it is—after a fifty per cent reduction in licenses, an action loudly protested by the Japanese—2,232 licenses were issued to Japanese last year.
This is an increase of 242 since 1927, when the Department's policy of reducing these ; licenses ten per cent annually, with the intention of gradually eliminating them, entirely changed.
This increased number of licenses is partly the result of giving licenses to Japanese who went overseas with the Canadian forces. While no one would grudge these men licenses, they should be given at the expense of other Japanese, not at the expense of white men.
It may also be noted that several Japaner firms control cannery and saltery licenses. No white man can obtain such a license in Japan, or even get a fishing license.
Canadians should never forget that a large proportion of Japanese immigrants to
Canada are ex-soldiers and sailors, many of whom have seen active service and are of the military samurai class, and that the army and navy are exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Emperor, the Japanese parliament exercising little or no control. Recent events in Manchuria throw a sinister light on this subject. It is one of the many reasons why thinking men in British Columbia are so apprehensive about the activities of the Japanese fisheries, canneries and salteries, all manned and officered exclusively by Japanese. Observers of current events are aware that the national genius that governed the Manchurian adventure directs the peaceful penetration into Canada, only the weapons are different.
What does it profit this country when fish from Canadian waters for which white fishermen are paid a mere pittance arbitrarily set by the Japanese themselves, are packed into Japanese boxes made from British Columbia timber, logged and sawn by Japanese, and shipped in Japanese vessels to feed the population of the Orient?
NO LEGISLATION so far enacted has touched the problem of the extremely large and continuing increase of Asiatics born in Canada who can never be Canadians, the views of certain advanced internationalists notwithstanding.
There are certain interests, as well as a few sentimentalists, who deprecate any action being taken to restrict the inroads of the present menace. Among these are some merchants who believe that such action might cause bad feeling and business would be adversely affected. Facts do not warrant this fear. The trade of New Zealand and Australia has in no way suffered from immigration restrictions, and the same applies to the United States.
It must be remembered that Asia buys in the market most suitable to her requirements, and the price is an all-important factor. Canada’s trade with China has increased since the Immigration Act completely barred new Chinese entry in 1923.
An association representing most of the organized social and business activities of British Columbia was formed in Vancouver in 1929, its objects being to ascertain the facts and try and evolve a solution of the difficulty which would do no injustice to Orientals already legitimately here.
The association believes that, while the descendants of such unabsorbable aliens might be British subjects by virtue of being bom in Canada or elsewhere in the Empire, they should not by the accident of birth, become Canadian citizens, but should have the status of expatriates, exactly as we should have been if born in their country.
This association stands for Canada’s sovereign right to regulate entry into Canada, and the activities while here of all who, on account of racial and cultural differences, may be regarded as unabsorbable and whose standards of living are materially below those of the inhabitants of this country. Legislation is recommended, based on the three fundamentals:
1. No alien should be allowed to enter into, or remain in any country, unless his presence is for the ultimate benefit of the nationals of that country.
2. The presence of a rapidly increasing, unabsorbable race is a grave danger, no matter how desirable they may otherwise be.
3. A treaty with any foreign country, no matter how friendly, which results in the displacement of our own manpower by unabsorbable aliens should be changed with as little delay as possible.
It is suggested that the existing immigration laws be changed so as completely to prohibit the entry into Canada of all races who will not or cannot become absorbed, or whom we do not wish to absorb. Further, that the naturalization laws be changed, so as to prevent Canadian nationalization by birth of all people of unabsorbable race.
Treaties of amity, not trade treaties, should then be negotiated whereby both treaty countries would be thrown open to the nationals of both sexes of the other, these nationals to be welcomed as visitors and receive the full protection of the laws of the country, but to be barred from entering any gainful occupations except such as were set out in the treaty.
Existing titles of alien landowners in either country would be recognized only during the lifetime of present owner, and at death his estate would be administered by the Crown for the benefit of his heirs. Children bom here of any unabsorbable alien race would not acquire citizenship, and at the age of sixteen would have to be licensed in one of the treaty occupations, go back to the land of their parents’ origin, or remain as visitors or students; in other words, be expatriates, as all white people are in Eastern countries.
•The treaty could advantageously provide for each party to agree to the free higher education of a hundred or more nationals of the other, who need not necessarily be children of residents.
Such an educational exchange would be of great benefit in facilitating future communications and enhancing goodwill with the countries across the Pacific.
Situation Becoming Intolerable
C UCH TREATIES would have the advan3 tage of giving to Asiatic nationals a definite status, and to the Chinese particularly would be a great improvement over their present position. It would allow them to bring in their wives, and give them a social and business standing at present not enjoyed either by themselves or the Japanese. 'The present Chinese Immigration Act, which completely bars all immigration of these nationals, leaving them in an unfavorable position compared with the Japanese, could be repealed.
Reciprocal treaties would cover, among other things, the right to own land by nationals of either country in the country of the other in cities of over 15,000 population for investment purposes; or land anywhere for the purposes of occupations covered by the treaty.
The foregoing offers the only plan so far devised for effectively dealing with Asiatic penetration in this country.
The circumstance of birth in any country does not necessarily imply citizenship. The Japanese themselves rigidly refuse citizenship to children of aliens. Japan should not see anything offensive in regulations which are already enforced in her own country against those of alien race.
It is safe to say that never before in history has a sovereign people submitted to a peaceful invasion by an alien race, particularly when that race is, by all tests and by admission on both sides, unabsorbable.
If we neglect to face the facts owing to indifference or misplaced sentiment, we are doing our children and their descendants an irreparable wrong. Between Nordics and Asiatics lie differences fundamental and deep, differences in moral outlook and philosophy. Humanity may have had some common origin back in the dim mists of the past, but all history is against the theory that races can ever revert again to a common kind.
The best that the continued advance of Asia here could offer would be an Oriental and a Nordic race living side by side a needless and dangerous situation when one race owes allegiance to an aggressive foreign power.
The situation is rapidly becoming intolerable and must be dealt with, for the agitation in British Columbia will never cease until a remedy has been found. It is a threat against the very existence of the country as a great white domain. To face and deal with this problem fairly and courageously is the outstanding duty of our national leaders, and one that is vital and urgent for the continued peace and welfare of Canada.