Hawaii: Racial Problem and Naval Base

Courtesy Reuters

TO THE tourist Hawaii means "Aloha," the land of friendship and flowers and moonlit surf at Waikiki -- "the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any sea." But to the statesman, the diplomat and the General Staffs of the Army and Navy it means America's powerful mid-Pacific naval base, it means problems of naval warfare and of national defense -- political as well as military. Among these problems one of the most serious arises from the racial composition of the islands' population. A few years ago it was frequently stated that Hawaii would soon be dominated by Japanese. In 1920 a political leader of Hawaii predicted: "Within seven years from now a majority of the voters in Hawaii will be Hawaiian-born Japanese." Somewhat later one of the leading Americans on the islands wrote, more conservatively: "Between 1940 and 1950 the voters of Japanese blood will reach the point of numerical majority."

It is now clear that these forecasts were entirely incorrect. Inhabitants of Japanese race will never constitute the majority of Hawaii's population; their proportion is now declining, and will continue to decline in the future. Among the voters, those of Japanese ancestry will never much exceed one out of three; and, once having attained that ratio, their proportion will thereafter gradually decrease. The most numerous racial group in Hawaii will eventually be, not the Japanese, but the Hawaiian and part Hawaiian.

Nevertheless, twenty years ago the prophecy that the Japanese would shortly constitute a majority of both the population and the electorate seemed reasonable enough. In 1920, they comprised nearly 43 percent of the population and that percentage appeared to be increasing. In 1923, 50.2 percent of the babies born in Hawaii were of Japanese parents. During the years 1912-1916, 53.8 percent of all the marriages performed in the islands were between Japanese. But since then the proportion of Japanese population, births and marriages has declined strikingly. In 1937, the Japanese constituted only 38.1 percent of the total population; and, of greater importance for the future, their births

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