11.3.4 Jap Minors May Own Land, Win in Alien Law Opinion
Growing nativism and anti-Japanese sentiment in the early twentieth century led to the passage of the Alien Land Law in California in 1913. The law was intended to discourage Japanese immigration by prohibiting Japanese immigrants from owning land. How was the Harada family affected by the Alien Land Law? What does the use of the derogatory term "Jap" in the headline suggest about the ways that Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans were viewed at this time? How did Japanese immigrants and their families attempt to circumvent the Alien Land Law? Were they successful?
Growing nativism and anti-Japanese sentiment in the early twentieth century led to the passage of the Alien Land Law in California in 1913. The law was intended to discourage Japanese immigration and settlement by prohibiting Japanese immigrants from owning land. Following the passage of the Alien Land Law, Japanese immigrants found ways to resist the discriminatory law by deeding or purchasing the property under the names of their American-born children, who were citizens by birth and therefore exempt from the law. Ask students to consider how the Harada family was specifically affected and the way in which they circumvented the law. Students should note that Jukichi Harada purchased the family home in his children's names. When neighbors sued to force the family off the property, the Haradas fought back in court. The resulting case, known as People of California v. Jukichi Harada, became the first test case of the Alien Land Law. Although the Alien Land Law remained in effect, the court ultimately ruled in the family's favor and the Harada children retained the property. By 1920, however, a new Alien Land Law in California closed these legal loopholes. Under the amended law, Asian immigrants could not lease or acquire land under the names of their American-born children. Those who legally purchased property before the 1920 law, like the Harada family, were able to hold on to their land. Japanese living in California banded together to protest the Alien Land Law and hired attorneys to set up test cases. In 1948 the Supreme Court finally declared the law unconstitutional (Oyama v. California).
Text accompanying newspaper article entitled “Jap Minors May Own Land, Win in Alien Law Opinion” reads “Three children of J. Harada, Japanese Restaurant Owner of Riverside, and Home He Purchased for Them Among White Neighbors.”