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IMMIGRATION
Hawaii

The Kingdom of Hawaii began efforts to bring Japanese laborers to work in the sugar cane fields in 1860. When their contracts expired, some of these laborers returned to Japan or eventually moved on to the United States. Those who remained in the Hawaiian Islands took up a variety of trades and businesses. A small but ambitious community developed, complete with its own schools, churches, and cultural and economic organizations.




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In 1898, after Hawaii was annexed to the United States, owners of sugar plantations rushed to bring in a large number of Japanese laborers before a ban on contract labor went into effect. More than 30,000 laborers were brought to Hawaii in one year. By 1900, there were more than 61,000 Japanese living in the Hawaiian Islands.




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"Life on the Ewa Plantation was very hard; getting up at 4 A.M., breakfast at 5, starting to work at 6, and working all day under the blazing sun. We worked like horses, moving mechanically under the whipping hands of the luna [overseers/foreman]. There was no such thing as human sentiment. "— Chinzen Kinjo, Hawaii Times, January 1, 1959




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By 1940, persons of Japanese ancestry accounted for almost 40 percent of the population of the Hawaiian Islands. The growth of the Japanese community alarmed some Hawaiians. Within seven years after the arrival of the first group of laborers, the Hawaiian legislature passed restrictive laws and tried to recruit people of other nationalities as laborers. In 1907, the U.S. Congress prohibited the immigration of Japanese from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland.


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