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Some Statistics on the Japanese in Hawaii

INSTABILITY has been characteristic of the population of Hawaii for at least half a century. Among the factors chiefly responsible may be named the great decrease in the native Hawaiian population and its partial amalgamation with Caucasian and Asiatic elements, the importation of laborers from many countries, the rapid increase by births of certain foreign peoples, and the departure of many laborers to the mainland of the United States and of others to their native lands. Considerable interest attaches to the question of Hawaii's future population. Doubtless migration to and from the Territory will eventually be a less important factor and the population will gradually become more stable. What will this population be?

Just now the prediction is frequently made that, unless some special device be introduced to prevent it, the Japanese will soon form the majority of Hawaii's population. The following statistical study has been made in order to help in forming a just opinion as to the probable outcome of present tendencies and forces. The period under consideration, so far as the definite forecast is concerned, extends to 1941. It should be understood that the term "Japanese" as used herein includes, unless otherwise specified, all persons of Japanese descent, both native and foreign born; the terms "Chinese," "Portuguese," "Filipino," etc., are similarly used. The term "American and North European" includes American, British, German, and a few others, and corresponds to the definition "Other Caucasian" used in the census.


Table A shows the growth of the various population elements in Hawaii from 1896 down to the present year. The figures for 1923 are the estimates of the Territorial Bureau of Vital Statistics; they may be accepted as very accurate because arrivals and departures as well as births and deaths are matters of record and publicity.

A study of Table A on the next page reveals several most interesting phenomena.

The Chinese, the first of the labor groups to be brought to Hawaii, reached their highest relative numbers in 1896, when they constituted 17.7 per cent of the population as compared with 8.0 per cent in 1923. The Japanese, coming to Hawaii more recently, reached their highest relative number in 1920, when they constituted 42.7 per cent of the population; since that date their percentage has decreased as follows: 1921, 41.6 per cent; 1922, 41.1 per cent; 1923, 40.4 per cent. The number of adult male Japanese, both Hawaiian and foreign born, decreased from 41,795 in 1910 to 36,548 in 1920, and further decreases will characterize the present decade. Attention is called to the recent rapid increase in the number of Filipinos. The very recent increase in the category described as "Other Caucasians" is explained mainly by the coming of men in army and navy service.

It will be particularly noticed that though there was an approximate equality of the sexes among the laborers brought from Portugal, Spain and Porto Rico, there has been a marked inequality in the case of the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Filipinos, especially in the earlier years of each movement. Note that since 1900 the Japanese have been approaching sex equality and, in a smaller degree, the Chinese also, while the same tendency is manifest in the case of the Filipinos since 1910. The men arrived first; then came the women; and then the children began to multiply.



In connection with the foregoing it is interesting to consider certain facts regarding the travel of Japanese between Hawaii and Japan and between Hawaii and the United States.

Before 1908 the number of Japanese women arriving in Hawaii was less than a fifth the number of men, but arrivals of women have exceeded departures almost constantly since that date. Thus we find that between 1908 and 1923, there have arrived in Hawaii from Japan 23,353 men, 27,685 women, 4,439 children; in the same period there have departed from Hawaii to Japan 29,988 men, 14,769 women, 19,129 children. Therefore 6,635 more Japanese men and 14,690 more Japanese children have left Hawaii than have arrived, whereas 12,916 more women have arrived than have left. Including all three categories, 8,409 more Japanese have left than have arrived.

1896 census taken by Hawaiian Republic; 1900, first American census.
June 30,
1896 1900 1910 1920 1923
Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Both
NATIVE HAWAIIAN RACE 16,399 14,620 31,019 15,642 14,157 29,799 13,439 12,602 26,041 11,990 11,733 23,723 21,468
CAUCASIAN-HAWAIIAN 3,460* 3,439* 6,899* 4,438 4,334 8,772 5,528 5,544 11,072 12,514
}4,249 4,236 8,485 {
ASIATIC-HAWAIIAN 1,558* 1,400* 2,958* 1,812 1,922 3,734 3,524 3,431 6,955 7,374
PORTUGUESE 4,596 3,636 8,232 9,785* 8,487* 18,272* 11,571 10,730 22,301 13,737 13,265 27,002 26,397
PORTO RICAN ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... 2,878 2,012 4,890 3,133 2,469 5,602 6,375
SPANISH ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... 1,078 912 1,990 1,326 1,104 2,430 2,105
OTHER CAUCASIAN 3,433 1,574 5,007 5,699* 2,848* 8,547* 9,255 5,612 14,867 12,309 7,399 19,708 35,774
CHINESE 17,963 1,419 19,382 22,296 3,471 25,767 17,148 4,526 21,674 16,197 7,310 23,507 23,714
JAPANESE 18,158 4,171 22,329 47,508 13,603 61,111 54,784 24,891 79,675 62,644 46,630 109,274 120,590
KOREAN ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... 3,931 602 4,533 3,498 1,452 4,950 5,608
FILIPINO ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... 2,160 201 2,361 16,851 4,180 21,031 36,199
H-BORN CHILDREN OF FOREIGNERS 7,058 6,675 13,733 ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
ALL OTHERS 661 172 833 421 227 648 605 466 1,071 409 249 658 402
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
  TOTAL 72,517 36,503 109,020 106,369 47,632 154,001 123,099 68,810 191,909 151,146 104,766 255,912 298,520
  *Estimate necessary because of certain differences in the classifications in the census of 1900.

From 1908 to 1920 the female arrivals consisted in the main of wives whose husbands had preceded them and of young women who had been sent for to become brides--"picture brides." More recently the arrivals have consisted largely of Japanese women returning from visits to Japan and of Hawaiian-born young women who had been sent to Japan as children to be educated. Indications for the present decade are that departures of women will exceed arrivals.

The Japanese men who arrived after 1908 were mainly men returning from visits in Japan, but there were some immigrants, mainly sons over sixteen years old of Japanese already in Hawaii. There were also some Hawaiian-born males who had been sent to Japan as children and who returned classified as men. About a third of the men who departed were returning to Japan for permanent residence and those who were married took their wives and children. Most children going to Japan in this way do not return to Hawaii.


Two things relative to the departures of Japanese from Hawaii for the United States challenge the attention:

1. The very heavy movement before 1907 (the date of the "Gentleman's Agreement" between Japan and the United States) and its negligible and comparatively evenly balanced character after that date. Thus we find that whereas in the period 1885-1907 inclusive 28,027 Japanese (men, women, and children) left Hawaii for the United States, there was practically no travel in the opposite direction. On the other hand, from 1908 to 1923 inclusive there have been only 1,624 departures for the United States, against 677 arrivals thence. In other words, 947 more Japanese have gone to the United States from Hawaii than have gone to Hawaii from the United States.

2. A beginning of a slight revival of the movement in 1918--this latter movement being one of Hawaiian-born Japanese and of Japanese naturalized as a result of service in the war. The numbers involved are not large yet, but they are large relative to the total number eligible to go--that is, to the number able to prove their citizenship to the satisfaction of the American immigration authorities. Probably from 20 to 25 per cent of those eligible have gone to the mainland and the movement will grow as the children reach maturity in increasingly large numbers. It should be remembered that comparatively few Hawaiianborn Japanese have as yet reached adult years.


The birth rate of course has an important bearing on future population. It depends mainly on two things: first, the relative number of married women of child-bearing age; second, the fecundity of the women, which is partly a racial, but chiefly an economic and social class characteristic.

No forecast regarding the future population of Hawaii as affected by birth rates will be valuable unless it is based on a careful study of the age and sex distribution of the various national groups.

Males Females
Under 10-19 20-49 50 Yrs. Under 10-19 20-44 45 Yrs.
10 Yrs. Yrs. Yrs. or Over 10 Yrs. Yrs. Yrs. or Over
  HAWAIIAN 6,306 4,409 7,709 2,610 6,132 4,531 7,079 2,955
PORTUGUESE 4,591 3,260 4,628 1,253 4,423 3,280 4,167 1,388
PORTO RICAN 914 666 1,254 295 868 676 678 246
SPANISH 473 318 409 126 382 301 328 93
OTHER CAUCASIAN* 1,391 1,953 7,254 1,797 1,194 937 3,672 1,589
CHINESE 2,731 2,054 6,354 5,048 2,668 1,822 2,231 578
JAPANESE 16,394 8,915 30,208 7,111 15,919 7,564 19,588 3,653
KOREAN 607 201 2,178 502 558 217 550 137
FILIPINO 1,570 980 13,932 357 1,541 499 2,027 112
ALL OTHER 96 53 174 86 87 79 58 25
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
  TOTAL 34,973 22,809 74,100 19,185 33,772 19,896 39,288 10,776
  *Includes a number of men in military and naval service.

Table B shows the abnormal age distribution of the women of the various national groups in Hawaii. It is especially notable in the case of the Japanese. These are relatively numerous at 20-44 years of age; on the other hand, there are few old women, and few girls 10-20 years of age. The age distribution of the Japanese women is at present unusually favorable to a high birth rate--more favorable than it will ever be again. Before 1930 the age distribution will shift in such a way as to result in a measurable decrease in the birth rate.

The decade 1910-1920 was for the Japanese in Hawaii a period of getting wives. Before 1907 the great majority of the men who came from Japan were unmarried and often even those who were married left their wives in Japan. Commonly the men came with the intention of remaining only a few years in Hawaii.

The application of the provisions of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" to Hawaii had the effect of stabilizing the Japanese population of the Territory and many of the men, when they decided to prolong their stay, sent for their wives or for "picture brides." "Picture bride" arrivals since the date of the "Gentlemen's Agreement" have been as follows: 1907, 466; 1908, 755; 1909, 436; 1910, 658; 1911, 865; 1912, 1,285; 1913, 1,572; 1914, 1,407; 1915, 1,050; 1916, 909; 1917, 985; 1918, 1,017; 1919, 848; 1920, 676; 1921, 529; 1922, 555; 1923, 263.

The coming of the women was an important movement; but it now is practically completed. The demand for wives and brides has been supplied. At the present time the Japanese men of Hawaii are married in higher ratio than are the men of any other racial group.

No. Births No. Births No. Married No. Births to
Year Ending to Each 1000 Women Each 1000 Married
June 30, 1920 Population Under 45 Women
Under 45
  COMBINED 1,866 47.9 6,302 296.0
PORTUGUESE 1,127 45.4 3,851 292.6
PORTO RICAN 265 50.0 780 339.4
SPANISH 116 47.7 336 345.2
OTHER CAUCASIAN 374 14.9 2,487 150.3
CHINESE 661 29.2 2,005 329.6
JAPANESE 4,963 43.7 19,204 258.4
KOREAN 192 36.9 578 332.1
FILIPINO 584 24.9 2,156 270.8
ALL OTHER 17 28.3 68 250.0
----- ----- ----- -----
  ALL RACES 10,165 39.0 37,767 269.1
  ALL EXCEPT THE JAPANESE 5,202 35.0 18,563 280.2

Table C reveals the fact that the fecundity of the Japanese women is lower than that of any other group but the American and North European. This is contrary to popular opinion but is well attested by the statistical data. The corresponding data for the various foreign-born nationalities in the United States are not available, but there is reason for believing that both the fecundity and the crude birth rate of the recent immigrants coming to America from southern and eastern Europe are higher than they are for the Japanese in Hawaii.

The death rate is, of course, another factor to be considered in determining the rate of natural increase of population. The death rate of the Japanese in Hawaii, considered in relation to age, falls a little below the average, which is, however, rather high because of the exceptionally high rates of the native Hawaiians and the Filipinos.

The nationalities of Hawaii are listed as follows in order of rate of normal increase, the lowest being put first: 1, American (including north European); 2, Filipino; 3, Hawaiian (including part Hawaiian); 4, Japanese; 5, Portuguese; 6, Porto Rican; 7, Spanish; 8, Korean; 9, Chinese.


It has been predicted that the Japanese will have a majority or nearly a majority of the voters by 1940. This is improbable. They constitute at present only 40.4 per cent of the population and the percentage is diminishing. Moreover, by 1940 most of the Japanese men and women over forty years old, being aliens, will not be eligible for naturalization, while nearly all of the other people in the islands over forty will be either native-born or foreign-born eligible to naturalization--this on the basis of present laws and policies.

It is not possible to make a very close estimate of the voting strength of the various national groups in 1940 because of the numerous uncertain factors entering into the calculations, chief among them being the question of further immigration and emigration. There is also the uncertainty of whether those who are citizens will actually exercise their right to vote. But because many wild guesses, some of them purporting to be estimates based on statistical calculations, have been given wide publicity, I am venturing to make an estimate of the number of potential voters in 1941. (See Table D.) In order to indicate my method to a slight extent, I am making the estimate by stages.

Preliminary Final
National Groups Estimate Estimate
CHINESE 11,500 10,000
JAPANESE 44,000 30,000
KOREAN 1,200 800
----- -----
   TOTAL 118,400 135,800
   PER CENT JAPANESE 37.1 22.1

The preliminary estimate of column one is based on the assumption that the situation as presented by the census of 1920 will not be modified by immigration or emigration at a later date. On this assumption the potential voters of 1941 will consist of all of the people who were living in the Territory in 1920 and who still survive, except certain classes excluded by law. These classes are as follows:

1. Men stationed in Hawaii for military and naval service; 2, foreign-born not eligible to naturalization; 3, native-born women married to aliens not eligible to naturalization; 4, illiterates; 5, mental incompetents.

As there is available a considerable quantity of statistical information regarding these five classes, as well as regarding death rates, this preliminary estimate, as far as it goes, should not be far from the truth.

In the second column I have introduced such modifications as I have thought necessary in view of probable immigration and emigration, matters of much greater uncertainty.

The greatest uncertainty in my estimate given in column two relates to the Filipinos, who, it will be remembered, are eligible to citizenship. The estimate assumes a continuation of existing laws and labor policies, but the planters are anxious to change their policy if they can secure a modification in the law to permit the importation of Chinese laborers. In the event of their securing laborers from China or elsewhere nearly all the Filipinos might possibly return to their native land. If the new laborers were aliens ineligible to citizenship, none of them would be voters. But the coming of new laborers in sufficient numbers to supplant the Filipinos would also have the effect of accelerating the movement of Hawaiian-born Japanese toward the mainland of the United States.

Even if all the Filipinos leave Hawaii, however, I can see no valid ground for the view that the Japanese will constitute over 28 per cent of the total potential voters in 1941.

A potential voter in order to become an actual voter must register and cast a vote. If foreign-born, he must be naturalized. This is a matter, not of counting heads, but of practical conduct, of interest, of disposition.

For example, most of the foreign-born Spanish and Porto Ricans are at present ineligible, being illiterate, and their children are nearly all minors. The Filipinos are politically minded, but they have not yet transferred their political interest to Hawaii and as a result very few of them have sought naturalization. The Americans, Hawaiians and Portuguese have had larger political experience and they formulate the issues and policies and hold the offices. The Chinese and Japanese have had little or no political experience and they are not politically minded. Their voting is more a matter of ritual than of practical politics, but they will develop politically with experience. From present indications they will be conservative in politics.

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