IF the coming of the foreigner has been Canada’s greatest danger from within, the coming of the Oriental has been one of her most perplexing problems from without. It is not only a perplexity to herself. It is a perplexity in which Canada involves the empire.
Take the three great Oriental peoples ! With China, Great Britain is in friendly agreement. With Japan, Great Britain is in closest international pact. To India, Great Britain is a Mother. Yet Canada refuses free admission to peoples from all three countries. Why? For the same reason as do South Africa and Australia. It is only secondarily a question of labor. The thing goes deeper than that.
Consider Japan first : Panama is turning every port facing west into a front door instead of a back door. Within twenty years, the combined populations of American ports on the Pacific have jumped from a few hundreds of thousands at San Francisco and nothing elsewhere to almost two million, with growth continuing at an accelerated rate promising within another quarter of a century as many great harbors of almost as great population on the Pacific as on the Atlantic. The Orient has suddenly awakened. It is importing something besides missionaries. It is buying American and Canadian steel, American and Canadian wool, American and Canadian wheat, American and Canadian machinery, American and Canadian dressed lumber. Ship owners on the Pacific report that the docks of through traffic are literally jammed with goods out-ward bound–”more goods than we have ships,” as the president of one line testified.
When the reason for building Panama has been shorn of highfalutin metaphors, it concentrates down to the simple bald fact that the United States possessions on the Pacific had grown too valuable to be guarded by a navy ten thousand miles away around the Horn. True, Roosevelt sent the fleet around the world to show what it could do, and the country howled its jubilation over the fact. But the Little Brown Brother only smiled; for the fleet hadn’t coal to steam five hundred miles without hiring foreign colliers to follow around with supply of fuel. “Fine fleet ! To be sure we have the ships,” exploded a rear admiral in San Diego Bay a few years ago; “but look here !” He pointed through the port at an insignificant coaling dock such as third rate barges use. “See any coal?” he asked. “If trouble should come” it was just after the flight of Diaz “we haven’t coal enough to go half way up or down the coast.”
Sometimes we can guess the game from the moves of the chess players. With facts for chessmen, what are the moves?
It was up in Atlin, British Columbia, a few years after the Klondike rush. Five hundred Japs had come tumbling into the mining camp, seemingly from nowhere, in reality from Japanese colonies in Hawaii. The white miners warned the Japs that “it wouldn’t be a healthy camp,” but mine owners were desperate for workers. Wages ran at from five to ten dollars a day. The Japs were located in a camp by themselves and put to work. On dynamite work, for which the white man was paid five to ten dollars, the Jap was paid three and five dollars. Still he held on with his teeth, “dogged as does it,” as he always does. Suddenly the provincial board of health was notified. There was a lot of sickness in the Jap camp “filthy conditions,” the mine owners reported. The board of health found traces of arsenical poisoning in all the Jap maladies. The Japs decamped as if by magic.
Simultaneously there broke out from Alaska to Monterey the anti Jap, anti Chinese, anti Hindu agitation. California’s exclusion and land laws became party planks. British Columbia got round it by a subterfuge. She had the Ottawa government rush through an order in council known as “the direct passage” law. All Orientals at that time were coming in by way of Hawaii. Ships direct from India were not sailing. They stopped at Hong Kong and Hawaii. The order-in-council was to forbid the entrance of Brown Brothers unless in direct passage from their own land. That effectually barred the Hindu out, till recently when a Japanese line, to test the Direct Passage Act, brought a shipload of Hindus direct from India to Vancouver. Vancouverites patrolled docks and would not let them land. A head tax of five hundred dollars was leveled at John Chinaman. That didn’t keep John Chinaman out. It simply raised his wages ; for the Chinese boss added to the new hand’s wages what was needed to pay the money loaned for en-trance fee. A special arrangement was made with the Mikado’s government to limit Japanese emigration to a few hundreds given passports, but California went the whole length of demanding the total exclusion of Brown Brothers.
Why? What was the Pacific Coast afraid of? When the State Departments of the United States and Canada met the State Department of the Mikado, practically what was said was this. Only in very diplomatic language : Whiteman : “We don’t object to your students and merchants and travelers, but what we do object to is the coolies. We are a population of a few hundred thousands in British Columbia, of less than three mil-lion in the states of the Pacific. What with Chink and Jap and Hindu, you are hundreds of millions of people. If we admit your coolies at the present rate (eleven thousand had tumbled into one city in a few months), we shall presently have a coolie population of millions. We don’t like your coolies any better than you do yourself ! Keep them at home!”
This conversation is paraphrased, but it is practically the substance of what the representative of the Ottawa government said to a representative of the Mikado.
Brown Brother: “We don’t care any more for our coolies than you do. We don’t in fact, care a hoot what becomes of the spawn and dregs of no-goods in our population. We are not individualists, as you white men are ! We don’t aim to keep the unfit cumbering the earth! We don’t care a hoot for these coolies ; but what we do care for is this we Orientals refuse to be branded any longer as an inferior race. We’ll restrain the emigration of these coolies by a passport system; but don’t you forget it, just as soon as we are strong enough, in the friendliest, kindest, suavest, politest, most diplomatic way in the world, we intend not to be branded any longer as an inferior race. We intend to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the management of the world’s affairs. If we don’t stand up to the job, throw us down ! If we stand up to the job and we stood up moderately in China and Russia and Belgium we don’t intend to ask you for the sop of that Christian brotherhood preached by white men. We intend to force recognition of what we are by what we do. We ask no favors, but we now serve you notice we are in to play the game.”
Neither is this conversation a free translation. Shorn of diplomatic kotowing and compliments and circumlocutions, it is exactly what the Mikado’s representative served to the representatives of three great governments Uncle Sam’s, John Bull’s, Miss Canada’s. If you ask how I know, I answer direct from one of the three men sent to Japan.
Can you see the white men’s eyes pop out of their heads with astonishment? They thought they were up against a case of labor union jealousy, and they found themselves involved in a complex race problem, dealing with three aggressive applicants for places at the councils of rulers governing the world. Californa was ordered to turn on the soft pedal and do it quick, and officially, at least, she did for a time Canada was ordered to lay both hands across her mouth and never to speak above a whisper of the whole Brown Brother problem; and England well England openly took the Jappy Chappy at his word recognized him as a world brother and entered into the famous alliance. And the coming of coolies suddenly stopped to the United States and Canada. It didn’t stop to South America and Mexico, but that is another play of the game with facts for chessmen.
Chinese exclusion, Japanese exclusion, Hindu exclusion suddenly became party shibboleths always for the party out of power, never for the party in power. The party in power kept a special Maxim silencer on the subject of Oriental immigration. The politician in office kept one finger on his lip and wore rubber soled shoes whenever an almond eyed was mentioned. With that beautiful consistency which only a politician has, a good British Columbia member, who rode Oriental exclusion as his special hobbyhorse, employed a Jap cook. In the midst of his stump campaign against Orientals he found in the room of his cook original drawings of Fort Esquimalt, of Vancouver Harbor and of Victoria back country. I was in British Columbia at the time. The funny thing to me was all British Columbia was so deadly in earnest it didn’t see the funny side of the inconsistency.
I was up and down the Pacific the year the Mikado died, and chanced to be in San Diego the month that a Japanese warship put into port because its commander had suicided of grief over the Emperor’s death. The ship had to lie in port till a new commander came out from Japan. Japanese coolies were no longer coming; but the Japanese middies had the run and freedom of the harbor; and they sketched all the whereabouts of Point Loma purely out of interest for Mrs. Tingley’s Theosophy, of course.
Diaz’s ministry had been very hard pressed financially before being ousted by Madero. Some Boston and Pacific Coast men had secured an option from the Diaz faction of the sandy reaches known as Magdalena Bay in Lower California. The Pacific Coast is a land of few good natural harbors ; especially harbors for a naval station and target practice. Suddenly an unseen hand blocked negotiations. Within a year Japan had almost leased Magdalena Bay, when Uncle Sam wakened up and ordered “hands off.”
Nicaragua has never been famous as a great fishing country. Yet Japanese fishermen tried to lease fishing rights there and may have, for all the world knows. In spite of exclusion acts, they already dominate the salmon fishing of the Pacific.
Coaling facilities will be provided for the merchant men of the world at both ends of Panama. Yet when England and France began furbishing up colonial stations in the Caribbean, Japan forthwith made offers for a site for a coaling station in the Gulf of Mexico.
But it was in South America and Mexico that the most active colonization proceeded. There is not an American diplomat in South America who does not know this and who has not reported it reported it with one finger on both lips and then has seen his report discreetly smothered in departmental pigeon-holes. Up to a few years ago Mexico and South America were enjoying marvelous prosperity. Coffee had not collapsed in Brazil. Banks had not blown up from self inflation in Argentina. Revolution at home and war abroad had not closed mines in Mexico. All hands were stretched out for colonists. Japan launched vast trans-Pacific colonization schemes. Ships were sent scouting commercial possibilities in South America. To colonists in Chile and Peru, fare was in many cases prepaid. Money was loaned to help the colonists establish themselves, and an American representative to one of these countries told me that free passage was given colonists on furlough home if they would go back to the colony. There is no known record outside Japan of the numbers of these colonists. And Japan asks why not? Does not England colonize; does not Germany colonize; does not France colonize? We are taking our place at the world board of trade. If we fail to make good, throw us out. If we make good, we do not ask “by your leave.”
When a shipping investigation was on in Washington a year ago, many members of the committee were amazed to learn that Japan already controls seventy-two per cent. of the shipping on the Pacific. Ask a Chilean or Peruvian whether he prefers to travel on an American or a Japanese ship. He Iaughs and answers that American ships to the western coast of South America would be as tubs are to titanicsonly until the new registry bill passed there were hardly any ships under the United States flag on the South-ern Pacific. Each of these Japanese ships is so heavily subsidized it could run without a passenger or a cargo; high as one hundred thousand dollars a voyage for many ships. Its crews are paid eight to ten dollars a month, where American and Canadian crews demand and get forty to fifty dollars. In cheapness of labor, in efficiency of service, in government aid and style of building no American nor Canadian ships can stand up against them. And again Japan askswhy not? Atlantic commerce is a prize worth four billions a year. When the Orient fully awakens, will Pacific commerce total four billions a year? Who rules the sea rules the world. Japan’s ships dominate seventy-two per cent. of the Pacific’s commerce now.
So when the war broke out, Japan shouldered not the white man’s burden but the Brown Brother’s and plunged in to police Asia. Again why not? As Uncle Sam polices the two Americas, and John Bull the seas of the world, so the Mikado undertakes to police the sea lanes of the Orient. The Jappy said when he met the diplomats on the subject of coolie immigration that he would prove himself the partner of the white man at the world’s council boardsor step back.
Is it a menace or a portent? Certainly not a men-ace, when accepted as a matter of fact. Only the fact must be faced and realized, and the new chessman’s moves recognized. Uncle Sam has the police job of one world, South America; Great Britain of another Europe. Will the little Jappy-Chappy take the job for that other world, where the Star of the Orient seems to be swinging into new orbits? The Jappy-Chappy isn’t saying much; but he is essentially on the job for all he is worth; and Canada hasn’t wakened up to what that may mean to her Pacific Coast.