A Brief Overview of Japanese Immigrants and Beginning Life in America
Instructor: Ashley Goulder
September 14, 2012
There is a diverse group of individuals who, whether by choice or force, have come to create a new nation, known as America. There are Mexicans, Italians, Irish, Germans, Chinese, Vietnamese and many more groups of immigrants who now call America home. How did they get here? Why did they come? What hardships did they have to face? Each group’s story of struggle, sacrifice, hard work, ridicule and success are similar, but each one is also unique. The story of Japanese immigration is a magnificent example of showing a life of hard work and determination. Welcome to America the Japanese.
Leaving Japan and Where They Ended Up in America
In the late 1800s and early 1900s the Japanese took full advantage of their ability to explore new lands and start new lives in a different part of the world. The era known as the Meiji period (1868-1912) was when power over Japan was returned to Emperor Meiji.1 Japanese migration to the United States first began when Emperor Meiji disbanded the prevention of travel and allowed the Japanese to leave Japan for foreign lands in 1870.2 Most of those who had migrated were males and they became a source of cheap labor for the Americans.3 The Japanese, like many other immigrants to America, came in search of peace and prosperity, leaving behind an unstable homeland for a life of hard work and the chance to provide a better future for their children.4 The greatest influx of Japanese to America was found in the early 1900s. The 1930s held the greatest number with 138,834 Japanese emigrants and then the 1940s falling slightly behind with 126,947 emigrants.5 Very few Japanese left the islands when they were first permitted, but by the early twentieth century the attraction of a new way of life, foreign soil, and better futures were just too compelling to resist.