The Governor of California Tells of the state’s “Oriental Problem” 1920[1]

The Japanese in our midst have indicated a strong trend to land ownership and land control, and by their unquestioned industry and application, and by standards and methods that are widely separated from our occidental standards and methods, both in connection with hours of labor and standards of living, have gradually developed to a control of many of our important agricultural industries.  Indeed, at the present time they operate 458,056 acres of the very best lands in California.  The increase in acreage control within the last decade, according to these official figures has been 412.9 per cent.  In productive values -- that is to say, in the market value of crops produced by them -- our figures show that as against $ 6,235,856 worth of produce marketed in 1909, the increase has been to $ 67,145,730, approximately tenfold.

 More significant than these figures, however, is the demonstrated fact that within the last ten years Japanese agricultural labor has developed to such a degree that at the present time between 80 and 90 per cent of most of our vegetable and berry products are those of the Japanese farms. Approximately 80 per cent of the tomato crop of the state is produced by the Japanese; from 80 to 100 per cent of the spinach crop; a greater part of our potato and asparagus crops and so on.  So that it is apparent that without much more effective restrictions that in a very short time, historically speaking, the Japanese population within our midst will represent a considerable portion of our entire population, and the Japanese control over certain essential food products will be an absolute one. . . .

These Japanese, by very reason of their use of economic standards impossible to our white ideals – that is to say, the employment of their wives and their very children in the arduous toil of the soil – are proving crushing competitors to our white rural populations.  The fecundity of the Japanese race far exceeds that of any other people that we have in our midst.  They send their children for short periods of time to our white schools, and in many of the country schools of our state the spectacle is presented of having a few white children acquiring their education in classrooms crowded with Japanese.  The deep-seated and often outspoken resentment of our white mothers at this situation can only be appreciated by those people who have struggled with similar problems.

It is with great pride that I am able to state that the people of California have borne this situation and seen its developing menace with a patience and self-restraint beyond all praise.  California is proud to proclaim to the nation that despite this social situation her people have been guilty of no excesses and no indignities upon the Japanese within our borders.  No outrage, no violence, no insult, and no ignominy have been offered to the Japanese people within California . . .

But with all this the people of California are determined to repress a developing Japanese community within our midst.  They are determined to exhaust every power in keeping to maintain this state for its own people.  This determination is based fundamentally upon the ethnological impossibility of assimilating the Japanese people and the consequential alternative of increasing a population whose very race isolation must be fraught with the gravest consequences.






[1] California State Board of Control, California and the Oriental (Sacramento: State Printing Office, Juen 1920), 8-13.