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Teaching Mikadoism

Teaching Mikadoism: The Attack on Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii, California, and Washington, 1919-1927

Noriko Asato
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    Teaching Mikadoism
    Book Description:

    Hawaii sugar plantation managers endorsed Japanese language schools but, after witnessing the assertive role of Japanese in the 1920 labor strike, they joined public school educators and the Office of Naval Intelligence in labeling them anti-American and urged their suppression. Thus the "Japanese language school problem" became a means of controlling Hawaii's largest ethnic group. The debate quickly surfaced in California and Washington, where powerful activists sought to curb Japanese immigration and economic advancement. Language schools were accused of indoctrinating Mikadoism to Japanese American children as part of Japan's plan to colonize the United States. Previously unexamined archival documents and oral history interviews highlight Japanese immigrants' resistance and their efforts to foster traditional Japanese values in their American children. They also reveal complex fissures of class and religion within the Japanese communities themselves. The author's comparative analysis of the Japanese communities in Hawaii, California, and Washington presents a clear picture of what historian Yuji Ichioka called the "distinctive histories" as well as the shared experiences of Japanese Americans.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6455-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Notes on Terminology
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Preface
    (pp. IX-XIV)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. XV-XVIII)
  6. CHAPTER 1 Immigration, Education, and Diplomacy: Japan, the United States, and the Origins of the Language School Controversy
    (pp. 1-20)

    Japanese American history began in 1868, when 148 Japanese emigrants, called thegannenmono(people of the first year), left Japan in the first year of its modern Meiji era (1868–1912). They were recruited to be contract laborers, meaning that the immigrants had a fixed-term contract to work in exchange for wages and passage.¹ This initial migration was not a success, and Japan did not allow further emigration until 1885. In this second stage of emigration, 945kanyaku imin,or government-sponsored contract laborers, initially went to Hawaii.² Most of them originally came from small-scale farming families, primarily from southeast Japan’s...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Mandating Americanization: Japanese Language Schools and the Federal Survey of Education in Hawaii
    (pp. 21-41)

    Over 20,000 Japanese Americans attended 163 Japanese language schools in the Territory of Hawaii in 1919. The existence of the schools had long been a bone of contention between the Japanese community in Hawaii and the white elite, who dominated the Territory, and to a lesser extent, within the Japanese community itself. That year, the Territory’s leaders requested the United States Bureau of Education to conduct an educational survey. Educational surveys were developed to provide a “first hand study of local conditions” prepared by national education leaders who could share their expertise with local authorities so that “children of all...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Closing a Loophole: California Exclusionists’ Attack on Japanese Language Schools
    (pp. 42-79)

    California’s Japanese language school controversy could easily be seen simply as a replica or extension of Hawaii’s campaign. This is understandable, as the text of California’s foreign language school control law was essentially copied from Hawaii’s Act 30. The motivation behind California exclusionists’ creation of a “Japanese language school problem,” however, reflects the movement’s agenda to control California Nikkei. In Hawaii, as we examined, the Japanese language school debate was a manifestation of power conflicts among several different groups; the battle was for control over the future majority in Hawaii. In California, anti-Japanese activists aimed to halt Nikkei land ownership...

  9. CHAPTER 4 A Transplanted Attack: Japanese Language Schools in Washington State
    (pp. 80-100)

    At the dawn of the twentieth century in Seattle, which sociologist S. Frank Miyamoto termed the “frontier period,” the city was in the midst of expansion, and the rapid growth of businesses constantly created more jobs for workers. Under this condition, sojourning Japanese immigrants who initially engaged in railroad, sawmill, and various service industries were welcomed by whites.¹ In 1900, when the Japanese population reached 3,900, accounting for approximately 5 percent of the city’s population, the Japanese consulate moved from Tacoma to Seattle, and the ethnic community formed a Japanese association to serve the community.² One of its first missions...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Conclusion
    (pp. 101-116)

    Five months after the June 1920 publication of the Federal Survey of Education, a group of Nikkei community leaders in Hawaii drafted a compromise bill on Japanese language schools. With the endorsement of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, the bill was presented to the Territorial House by Henry J. Lyman (Republican, Hilo), and a similar bill was proposed by Harry A. Baldwin (Republican, Maui) in the Senate in November 1920.¹ Both bills passed their respective houses and were signed into law as Act 30 by Governor McCarthy on November 24, 1920. The law regulated language schools’ operating hours and required...

  11. Appendix 1921 California State Examination for Japanese Language School Teachers
    (pp. 117-118)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 119-152)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 153-162)
  14. Index
    (pp. 163-176)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-182)