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Thursday, 26 October 1905


Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) - I move -

That, recognising, as this Senate does, that it is the wish of both the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia to maintain the purity of their respective races,, this Senate hereby affirms the desirability of a treaty being made under which all questions relating to emigration and immigration may be arranged. This Senate further expresses 'its earnest hope that the friendship between the people of the Empire of Japan and those of the Commonwealth of Australia may be maintained, to their mutual advantage and to the well-being of the whole world.

I feel a good' deal of chagrin that circumstances have resulted in my being only able to commence my address at this late hour in the afternoon, with the certainty that within about three-quarters of an hour I shall have to stop. But there is "many a slip ''twixt the cup and the lip " - more so, I suppose, in political life than in any other sphere - and I presume that I shall be at liberty to resume my speech on the date to which the debate may be adjourned. Of course, I am aware that there can be no treaty made directly between the Empire of Japan and the Commonwealth of Australia. Honorable senators will notice that I have not affirmed otherwise, and they will understand that I take it foi granted that what is meant is a treaty made by Great Britain, on behalf of Australia with the Empire of Japan, under which any arrangement made could be given effect to. I propose at once to dash into the very centre of this question by considering this point : Has the Empire of Japan been insulted, or have its represen tatives expressed the view that it has been insulted, by the legislation of Australia? That point has already been debated to some extent. There are in* Australia a number of persons who stoutly deny that it has done anything of an offensive nature to Japan, and some persons even go so far as to say that Japan has never expressed any opinion in that direction. I think that, on several occasions, I have made it sufficiently clear that Japan does look upon our Immigration Restriction Act as highly offensive ; but to-day, if time permits, I shall make that clear beyond possibility of doubt. I shall first draw the attention of honorable senators to a despatch, dated 20th October, 1897, from Mr. Colonial Secretary Chamberlain to the Governor of South Australia, which may be seen at page 845 of the second volume of our parliamentary papers for the session 1901-2. Mr. Chamberlain writes as follows : -

Sir, -I have the honour to acquaint you for the information of your Ministers, that the Japanese Government has made repeated representations to Her Majesty's Government, through her Minister at this Court, on the subject of the legislation passed by certain of the Australasian Colonies for the restriction of coloured immigration.

I draw attention to the phrase that the Japanese Government had made " repeated representations." So far back as 1897 the Colonial Secretary stated this. The despatch goes on -

M.   Kato was willing to admit that, from a material point of view, there was no very great grievance of which Japan could complain.

3.   The actual immigration was very small, and the class of Japanese who chiefly desired to enter the Australasian Colonies were exempted by special provision from the prohibitions of the Colonial Bills.

4.   But the point which had caused a very painful feeling in Japan was, not that the operation of the prohibition would be such as to exclude a certain number of Japanese from immigrating into Australasia, but that Japan' should be spoken of in formal documents, such as the Colonial Acts, as if the Japanese were on the same level of morality and civilization as Chinese, or other less advanced populations of Asia.

5.   This was a matter of sentiment, and the slur cast upon the Japanese nationality was keenly felt by the Government of Japan. The relief which they desired was not the modification of the laws by which a certain part of the Japanese population was excluded from Australia! and New Zealand, but the abandonment of the language which classed them with others to whom they bore no real similarity, and inflicted upon the nation an insult which was not deserved.

6.   M. Kato maintained that the provision in the -Act passed by the Colony of Natal that immigrants should write out a certificate in some European language would practically effect the object of the Colonies, as only educated Japanese would be able to pass the test, and of these very few would wish to immigrate. This result, he added, would even more certainly be' obtained with regard to other Asiatic countries where general education is less advanced than in Japan, and frauds could be prevented by more or less frequent changes in the certificate.

7.   These representations deserve the careful consideration of your Government. As I pointed out at the Conference of the Premiers, the provisions of the Natal Act would exclude all undesirable persons, without casting a slur on any race or colour.

8.   If the state of feeling in the Colonies preclude the possibility of adopting a measure similar to the Natal Act, I would earnestly request your Ministers to consider whether, so far as British Indian subjects and Japanese are concerned, the exclusion desired might not be obtained by a general test, such as is provided by that Act.

That letter clearly and unmistakably shows that eight years ago the Colonial Secretary represented to the Government of South Australia that a strong feeling existed in Japan on the subject of Australian legislation.


Senator Best - But we accepted the suggestion therein made to remove that feeling.


Senator PULSFORD - The law now existing is not the same as the Natal Act.


Senator Best - It is practically the same.


Senator PULSFORD - No, if is not. Our law contains the European language provision.


Senator Best - The principle was that people of all nations should be treated alike.


Senator PULSFORD - That is not the case now.


Senator Best - Pardon me; I think it is.


Senator PULSFORD - In 1901 I find that Mr. Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary, writing to the Governor-General of Australia, said -

Your Government will doubtless be able to obtain a copy of my despatch to the Governor of Victoria, No. 86, of the 20th October, 1897, in which I informed the Colonial Government of the views held by the Government of Japan on the question of the restriction of Japanese immigration into the Australasian Colonies.

The despatch referred to has not been published, but through the courtesy of the Under-Secretary of External Affairs I have been able to get a copy of it, and I find that it is word for word the same as the despatch which was sent in 1897 to the Governor of South Australia. So that on the 20th October, 1897, Mr. Chamberlain not only wrote to the Government of South Australia, but also to. the Government of Victoria, intimating that a painful feeling existed in Japan on the subject of Australian legislation, and that Japanese opinion was that that nation was very much insulted by what was going on. So that there can be no question as to the strong view held by Mr. Chamberlain on the subject. As that despatch was sent to two State Governments, I take it that a circular despatch was sent to the other Governments of the States also.


Senator Millen - There was one to New South Wales.


Senator PULSFORD - Now let me refer to what took place in New South Wales. In 1897, under date 24th November, Mr. Nakagawa, the Japanese Consul in Sydney, wrote as follows to Mr. Reid, then Premier of New South Wales : -

Sir, -As Consul for Japan, I deem it my duty to formally enter my protest against the unfriendly character of the legislation now proposed with regard to the immigration of aliens.

Permit me to say that, so far as Japan is concerned, New South Wales has no reason to fear alien immigration. The Japanese Government does not wish to lose any of its subjects, and so far as the people themselves are concerned, they are under no necessity to emigrate- - as may be judged from the fact that wageshave nearly doubled within the last three years, consequent upon the marked development that has taken place in many industrial pursuits.

Although I am without instructions on the point, I do not hesitate to say that the Government of Japan will be quite prepared at any time to make an arrangement by treaty or otherwise that will practically secure for New South Wales, so far as Japan is concerned, all that the proposed legislation can secure.

I need not quote the whole of the letter.


Senator Best - The protest was made against the colour test provided in the New South Wales Bill.


Senator PULSFORD - In 1899, Mr.. Eitaki had succeeded Mr. Nakagawa as Japanese Consul in Sydney, and he addressed to the Government of New South Wales a letter, repeating the arguments and statements which had been used by his predecessor. He said : -

My Government, I am _ sure, will be quiteready at any moment to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangement for controlling emigration to New South Wales, and' they do not wish it to be believed for a moment that they have any thought or wish to promote Japanese emigration to your shores or elsewhere.


Senator Best - The Bill against which those protests were made contained a colour test. No persons of colour were to be admitted.


Senator Millen - It distinctly enumerated the class of people to be kept out.


Senator PULSFORD - There have been changes, but every Bill of this character that has been drafted has contained clauses which the Japanese have felt to be offensive.


Senator Playford - Has the Japanese Government ever said so to the Commonwealth concerning; our Act ?


Senator PULSFORD - I do 'not think that Senator Playford will repeat that question when I have done. On the 3rd May, 1901 - that is six days before the opening of the Federal Parliament, Mr. Eitaki addressed the following letter to the Prime Minister : -

Sir, -I have the honour to address you on the subject of alien restriction, especially in view of proposals for legislation intended to tie brought before the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The friendship that -exists between the Empires of Great Britain and Japan leads me to suppose that your Government would not willingly take steps calculated to wound the f eelings of the people whom it is my privilege to represent.

The Japanese belong to an Empire whose -standard of civilization is so much higher than that of kanakas, negroes, Pacific Islanders, Indians, or other Eastern peoples, that to refer to them in the same terms cannot but be regarded in the light of a reproach, which is hardly warranted by the fact of the shade of the national complexion. '

My Government recognises distinctly the right of the Government of Australia to limit in any way it thinks fit the number of those persons who may be allowed to land and settle in Australia, and also to draw distinctions between persons who may, or who may not be admitted. Corresponding rights belong to the Empire of Japan.

As Japan is under no necessity to find an -outlet for her population, my Government would readily consent to any arrangement by which all thai Australia seeks, so far as the Japanese are concerned, would be at once conceded.

Might I suggest, therefore, that your Government formulate some proposal, which, being accepted by my Government, would allow of the people' of Japan being excluded from the operation of any Act which directly or indirectly imposed a tax on immigrants on the ground of colour

Then, on the nth September. Mr.. Consul Eitaki again wrote to the Prime Minister, drawing attention to what was proposed. In his letter he said : -

I would respectfully ask you to refer to the extract from my letter to the Right Hon. G. H. Reid, dated 16th May, 189% which. I enclosed in my letter to you of the 3rd May last. The extract reads as follows : - " My Government, I am sure, will be quite ready at any moment to give any assurance, or to enter into any suitable arrangements for controlling immigration to Australia."

On 1 6th September, five days later, the Consul again addressed the Prime Minister in the following terms : -

Sir, -I trust you will pardon me for addressing you so soon again on the subject of the Immigration Restriction Bill, now under consideration by the Federal Parliament; but I am sure you will admit that the importance of the issues involved - not only to the Australian Commonwealth, but also to Great Britain and Japan - is great enough to constitute a sufficient reason for my action.

The letter goes on -

In Japanese schools and other educational establishments the most approved European methods are adopted, and the most important works on science, literature, art, politics, law, &c, which are published in Europe from time to time are translated into Japanese for the use of students. Thus a Japanese, without being acquainted with any other language than his own, is frequently up to a very high educational standard in the most advanced branches of study, by means of a liberal use of these translations.

I draw special attention to these words -

I cannot imagine any sufficient reason why the Japanese language should not be regarded as upon the same footing with,, say, the Turkish, the Russian, the Greek, the Polish, the Norwegian, the Austrian, or the Portugese, or why, if an immigrant of any of the nationalities I have mentioned may be examined in his own language, the same courtesy should .not be extender to the Japanese. . . .

But if, in spite of all the representations that have been made upon this subject, and the alternative suggested it should become clear that the Australian Commonwealth Parliament has decided to frame an important Act, specially directing its operations against .a friendly nation, and without sufficient justification for so doing by any existing circumstances, it will be a necessity for my Government to make the strongest possible protest in the proper quarter.

I do not think that diplomatic language could be stronger than that.


Senator Playford - Did they ever do it?


Senator PULSFORD - They did. Two days 'later Mr. Eitaki wrote to the Prime Minister as follows: -

I have the honour to address you upon the subject of.the amendment of the Postal Bill, agreed to, on the voices, on the 5th instant, by the House of Representatives. The amendment reads as follows : - " No contract or arrangement for the carriage of mails shall be entered into on behalf of the Commonwealth, unless it contains the condition that only white labour shall be employed in such carriage. . . ."

I am sure you will see that this amendment contains the same objectionable reproach to- the

Japanese, on the ground of colour, against which protests have been made on former occasions, and in connexion with different matters.

I have the honour to inform you,- therefore, that it will be my duty to notify my Government officially of the amendment referred to, and I feel confident that they will learn of the action of the Australian Commonwealth Parliament with extreme regret.

Then, on 20th September, the Consul again wrote to the Prime Minister, and, referring to certain remarks made by the latter, said -

I have the honour to point out that the extract from the speech I have quoted above - read in conjunction with your own declarations on pages 4645 and 4653 of Hansard - make it clear that my request that the Japanese might be treated in the same manner as the European nations, have not been of any avail, and that the Bill is unmistakably and professedly aimed at the Japanese, upon grounds which must form the subject of the strongest possible protests should it be passed.


Senator Millen - Was the statement that the legislation was specially aimed at the Japanese ?


Senator PULSFORD - The remark by Mr. Deakin was -

We hold that the test should exclude alien Asiatics as well as the people of Japan, against whom the measure is primarily aimed.

Mr. Deakin,unfortunately, used those very words. On 10th October the Consul once more addressed the Prime Minister -

I notice, with great regret, that the third reading of the Immigration Restriction Bill has been passed by your Honorable House of Representatives, providing for an educational test " in ah European language " to be applied to intending immigrants.

With reference to the statements made that there has been no protest against the same provision of similar legislation when passed by the States of New South Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and that such provision has not been found to cause trouble in any one of these places, I crave permission to say that the absence of protest against the State legislation should neither destroy the right to protest against Federal legislation of the same character, nor weaken its force. And the circumstances existing at the time when the State legislation was under discussion have considerably changed, showing more need for the protest at the present time than there was then.

Not content with, writing these strong letters to the head of the Government of Australia, the Consul wrote direct to the GovernorGeneral, Lord Hopetoun.


Senator Playford - What replies were given to those letters of the Consul?


Senator PULSFORD - The replieswere just as near nothing as possible.


Senator Playford - We might as well have the replies, so that both sides may be presented.


Senator PULSFORD - In reply to Senator Playford, I quote the followingreply sent on behalf of the Barton Government to the Japanese Consul: -

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the nth, 16th, and 20th in-' stant, on the subject of the effect of the Immigration Restriction Bill (now before Parliament), sofar as Japanese are concerned. I need scarcely say that your representations are receiving thefullest consideration of the Government.

These few lines dispose of three lengthy and important despatches from the Japanese Consul. On the 5th October, Mr.. Eitaki wrote as follows to the Earl of Hopetoun : -

Your Excellency. - I have the honour to inform. Your Excellency that, during the discussion upon the Immigration Restriction Bill in the Federal House of Representatives, I communicated withthe Right Honorable the Prime Minister, ex-, pressing the hope (by direction of my Government) that the Commonwealth Parliament might see its way clear to avoid legislating in such a manner as to make distinctions affecting the-; Japanese on the grounds of race and colour.

My communications, however, were not for- 'tunate enough to produce the desired effect ; inasmuch as the educational test decided upon isracial, pure and simple. In addition to this, the subsequent insertion of the word " European " in an amendment on the clause which provides for the imposition of penalties onmasters and owners of ships, emphasizes the intention of the Bill to make racial distinctions; and there has since been passed through' bothHouses a new clause in the Postal and Telegraphic Bill, stipulating for V white labour only"" in all Government mail contracts and agreements.

Will honorable senators please note the next sentence?

I have received a cable from His ImperialJapanese Majesty's Government, stated that they - consider the two Bills named clearly make a racial discrimination, and requesting me, on that account, to convey to Your Excellency their highdissatisfaction with those measures.

It will be seen that the Consul, was not acting alone, but on direct instructions, which the Japanese Government had thought important enough to send by cable. On the 15th November the Consul again, wrote to the Governor-General -

Your Excellency. - I have the honour to addressYour Excellency again upon the subject of the Postal and Telegraphic Bill, which has now been passed by both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament, with the clause therein (stipulating for " white labour only ''' in all Government mailcontracts) referred to in my letter of the 5th. October last.

I regret exceedingly that the communications it has been my duty to make to Your Excellency and the_ Right Honorable the Prime Minister, upon this point - explaining the light in which- such a stipulation must be viewed by my Government, and expressing the hope that the Commonwealth Parliament might see its way clear to avoid legislating in a manner which made distinction affecting the Japanese on the grounds of race and colour - have not been fortunate enough to be crowned with success.

I forwarded your letters of the 10th and 21st ultimo to the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, and I understand that, with other communications upon the same subject, they have been sent to His Britannic Majesty's Government through the Japanese Minister.

I need not enlarge upon the very great importance of the principle involved in this matter, for I am sure that Your Excellency will recognise if at once. I can only say that the earnest desire of my Government is to remove all obstacles which may work to the detriment of the friendly and commercial relations which now subsist be. tween Australia and Japan, and which have every prospect of further development to the mutual advantage of both nations in the future.

I have now quoted some twelve different letters sent to the Government, and to the Governor-General, and I shall now show what occurred in London. On the 7th October, 1901, Baron Hayashi, the Japanese Ambassador in London, wrote as follows to the Marquis of Lansdowne : -

Referring to my note of the 14th July last, and your note dated 7th September last, I have the honour to again ask the good offices of Your Lordship -in respect df the Immigration Bill now pending in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Japanese Consul at Sydney has just reported to my Government that in the lower House of the Parliament an amendment to the Bill was passed, making the knowledge of any European language as the educational test of persons to be permitted to Australia.

A comparison of the dates makes it evident that the Japanese Government had cabled, not only to the Consul in Sydney, but to the Ambassador in London, so that the strength of the feeling in Japan may easily be understood. The letter to Lord Lansdowne continues : -

He has also reported that the Postal Bill, which has passed the Lower House, provides for white labour only in Government mail contracts, and that it has been stated in the Parliament that these Bills were intended for the exclusion of Asiatics and other coloured races from that continent.

Your Lordship will find no difficulty to see therefrom that these Bills are, under the device of the educational test, aimed to discriminate against the Japanese and others of a different colour. While the Japanese Government do not object in principle to an adequate test, which the Federal Government may adopt to regulate the entry of aliens, they cannot acquiesce in a measure which makes the educational test a means to discriminate against Japanese subjects in favour of other nationalities. Moreover, the clause 4, and the proposed amendment of the Bill under discussion, seem to apply to all Japanese who may proceed to Australia, and no Japanese, even if well educated in my country, will, unless they can write in any of the European languages, not be permitted to land there, the result being practically the closing of that continent to Japanese subjects in general.

I beg, therefore, to request Your Lordship, in accordance with instructions received from my Government, that His Majesty's Government will again induce the Government of Australia to so modify those clauses as to place Japanese subjects on the same footing with those of European nationalities.

As to the remark made in Your Lordship's note, dated 4th September last, about the educational test adopted in two of the Australian colonies, as well as in New Zealand and Natal, I beg to state that Japanese subjects do not sojourn much in those colonies, and that, therefore, the Japanese Government have- so far refrained from entering into any discussions which were of no practical importance. As the Bill, however, which is now before the Parliament of the Commonwealth, is intended to apply in all parts of Australia, my Government is impelled to once more make their representation to His Majesty's Government. Your Lordship will no doubt understand the sincere motive of the Japanese Government to approach on this subject. Their earnest desire is to remove the obstacles which may work to the detriment of the friendly and commercial relations between Japan and that important part of the British Empire, and to promote those relations which have every prospect of further development in the future.


Senator Pearce - That hardly tallies with the honorable senator's statement that the Japanese do not wish to come here.


Senator PULSFORD - The Ambassador in that letter, states distinctly that the Japanese are willing to be placed on the same footing as Europeans. Three days later the Ambassador again wrote to the Marquis of Lansdowne : -

Referring to my note of the 7th inst. about the Immigration and Postal Bills represented before the Parliament of Australia, I have the honour to inform Your Lordship that the Imperial Government have received another telegram from the Japanese Consul at Sydney, in which it is stated that these Bills will, if they become law, be a severe blow to the Japan Mail Steamship Company, and that the company will be compelled to discontinue their Australian line on account of the disabilities newly imposed bv these Bills. 3 '


Senator Staniforth Smith - The Japanese have not done that.


Senator PULSFORD - The letter continues : -

Your Lordship is, no doubt, aware that the regular steamship service, which has been opened by that company for some years between Japan and Australia, has in no small degree contributed to the development of the trade between the two countries, and Your Lordship will share with me the apprehension that the proposed legislation will greatly affect the growth of that commerce.

I, therefore, have the honour to again request, in accordance with instructions received from my Government, that Your Lordship will use your influence so that the Government of the Commonwealth may see their way to remove from the legislation these disabilities, which will produce such an unfortunate consequence to the friendly and commercial relations between Japan and Australia.


Senator Playford - What was the reply to that?


Senator PULSFORD - I have not the reply. That was written on the nth October, 1901. The legislation was completed, and in the years that have since intervened nothing has occurred to lessen the feeling amongst Japanese as to their own importance and greatness as a nation, or in any way to make them feel less any slur or insult cast upon them. B'ut to bring the opinion of Baron Hayashi up to date, I can refer to a cable which appears in the newspapers of this very day -







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