Masaryk University Faculty of Arts Department of English and American Studies

Japanese Immigration to the West Coast

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3. Japanese Immigration to the West Coast

Japanese American prewar experience in the West Coast was not very long since the Japanese began to arrive as late as 1870s. Similarly to other immigrant groups in the United States, they were not always accepted by the locals and in many cases had to overcome racism and prejudice in order to succeed. Many scholars agree that they developed very effective strategies to help them in the process and this adaptability also led to the establishment of the Japanese American community as the model minority in the past. Unfortunately, some of their strategies at the same time backfired and caused problems for the immigrants. As most of the measures used to counter hardships resulted in strengthening ties inside the ethnic group at the expense of assimilation, it became easy in the eyes of surrounding white society to view Japanese Americans as small isolated colonies. Consequently, anti-Japanese propaganda had more means of instilling anxiety and suspicion in other citizens. Undoubtedly, popularization of scientific racism and the development of relations between Japan and the United States also had influence on the image of the community in the West Coast, especially in the interwar period when it gradually deteriorated. As the fear of war grew stronger, every aggressive action of Japan increased the suspicion felt toward Japanese Americans.

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