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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6345

Mr SPENCE (Darling) - We have been assured on more than one occasion that there is no. desire on the part of the Japanese Government to encourage the emigration of its subjects to Australia, or elsewhere. I intend to show the utter fallacy of that statement, and my observations will be based upon facts which have been taken from recent American experience. In Japan at the present time there are four large companies, with unlimited capital behind them, whose special business it is to encourage emigration. These companies engage intending emigrants, send them to America, and supply them with the money necessary to enable them to land there. They reimburse themselves through the medium of the Japanese boarding-houses, to which the men are sent there. During the present year, and in California especially, there has been a very great agitation in this connexion, in which the principal newspapers have taken an active part. The labour organizations found that the position was becoming so serious that they despatched Mr. Edward Rosenberg, a very able man, as a special commissioner to the Orient to investigate the labour situation there. The experience of California should be of some assistance to us in dealing with this question. In 1880 there were only 86 Japanese there. Ten years later there were 1,147, and 'n 1900 there were no less than 10,151. A special inquiry has been made by the United States Bureau of Statistics as to the number of Japanese in America, and while it is difficult to arrive at an accurate estimate, it is believed that at the present time there are about 100,000 there. The most noticeable feature of the situation is that during the last few years the Japanese have been pouring into California and other States in very large numbers. From 1000 to 1904,8,000 Japanese entered California, and in 1904, 7,000 arrived from Hawaii. It is believed that there are now 30,000 in California, and the position has become so serious that, as the result of public meetings held all over the State, the Legislature of California has appealed to Congress and to the President to put a stop to the Japanese invasion. And yet we have been told that the Japanese have no desire to leave their own country. The Japanese of Hawaii conduct a paper called the Shimpo, and in June of last year that newspaper contained a statement to the effect that there were 3.-Soo Japanese there who wished to go to California. . In May, .1 902. when the great influx of Japanese into California probably began, the Shimpo published the following paragraph: -

Lately almost every, steamer for the coast - that is for California - carries away a large number of Japanese labourers from here. They are said to be pre-engaged to work in Californian orchards, beet fields, or on the rail roads. Several recruiting agents now in the city are affording every inducement for them to emigrate.

I have a copy of the agreement made between the coolies and the big companies to which I have referred. The coolies bind themselves to serve for a period of three years. During that time they are practically slaves, the conditions of their employment being similar to those under which Chinese have been sent to South Africa. The companies make large profits out of the business. They undertake to return sick Japanese, and to reimburse the Japanese Government any expense to which they may be put in this connexion. The coolie pays a fee of ten yen, in order to secure an engagement. The orchardists of California believed that the influx of Japanese would supply them with cheap labour ; but the Japanese have become masters of the situation. Having squeezed out the European workers, they have succeeded by the completeness of their organization in placing the orchardists of California practically at their mercy, and are demanding higher wages than were asked by the Europeans. When the Japanese were first introduced, there was a resort to firearms and blood was shed in an encounter between the white and the coloured men. The white workers having been driven out of the fruit-growing industry, the Japanese labourers have lost that suavity which' previously characterized .them, and are resorting to the bullying and tyranny which is characteristic of such individuate. In California, growers of peaches, which ripen quickly, find themselves completely at the mercy of the Japanese. Local conditions are responsible for the desire of the Japanese to emigrate to America, and must prompt them to seek a footing here. Japan has a population of 45,000,000 settled on an area of 148,724 square miles, only n per cent, of which consists of arable land. It is idle to say that now that the war is over. Manchuria, which has a population of about 20,000,000., and Korea, which has also a large population, will afford a suitable outlet for the Japanese people, when they know that they can earn more money in other countries. Higher wages constitute the temptation for them to emigrate to the United States and Australia. It is said that they have adapted themselves to the ideals of Western civilization. But what does that mean? Mr. Rosenberg found that instead of the Japanese being co-operationists, as was believed, their property was so great that the places of those who went on strike were immediately filled by others. The methods of settling trade disputes which have found a place in our Western civilization are not likely to be availed of there. We have to remember that in Japanuntillately work that is performed by machinery in civilized countries was for the most part done by manual labour. It is only during comparatively recent years that labour-saving machinery has been introduced, and the result is that millions of workers who previously managed to eke out an existence there now find themselves utterly helpless. I. should like these facts to be impressed on. the minds of the officers administering the Act. We are not wide awake. The facts that I am putting before the House are up-to-date, and should be of interest to honorable members. It must be recognised that a crisis has been reached in the history of these people that their conditions of life are being completely revolutionized, and that there is consequently room for the agents of the large employing companies to secure Japanese labour for the Californian orchards and beet fields. These companies are not anxious to return the coolies to Japan, and having once reached California they drift to other States. The figures which I havequoted are admittedly only estimates, but they should be sufficient to show that we are facedby a very real danger. It is, therefore,highly im- portant that our Immigration Restriction Act should be vigorously administered. Imperfect though it may be. it is still capable of keeping the Japanese out of Australia. The idea that the Japanese do not wish to come here is absurd. The experience of the United States shows that they are anxious to emigrate, and that we have a serious danger to face. Mr. Rosenberg, the representative of the American Federation of Labour, to whom I have referred, writes -

On my way from Osaka to Tokio I had a lengthy conversation with T. Nakahashi, the president of the Osaka Shosen Kaisha, a steamship company, capitalized at $2,250,000, and owning seventy-six steamers. He was emphatic in his statements that the organization of labour on Western lines is impossible at present. He said, "Any attempt to do so would fail, the population of the country being so dense that the places of strikers could be quickly filled."

My observations in Japan incline me to the belief that there is considerable truth in the opinion that there is ahead for the working people* of Japan an era of great and long suffering, just as in thelast decade of the eighteenth century the English workers suffered great hardships when machine production was revolutionizing English industry, and the workers lacked the organization of labour necessary to successfully demand a fair share in the nation's industrial advance.

The conditions of living in Japan are such that the surplus population are forced to seek a livelihood elsewhere. The introduction, of machinery into Japan has had. more to do with creating a surplus popula tion there than has the natural growth of the people. It is generally agreed that Japan is over-populated, and that she has now secured an outlet for a large part of her surpluspopulation in Manchuria, where the people have less energy and are less capable of managing their affairs. But the four large companies to which I have referred find a profit in exporting Japanese labour, and if they were given the slightest opportunity to extend their operations to this country, Australia would soon be swamped with Japanese. In California the Japanese are taking possession of the orchards, and in the cities are displacing domestic servants.

Mr Wilson - No doubt the householders of California, like those of Australia, cannot procure other domestic servants.

Mr SPENCE - Domestic servants could always be obtained if they were paid properly, and treated like other employes.

Mr Wilson - However disposed one may be to pay and treat domestic servants well, that class of labour cannot easily be obtained.

Mr SPENCE - Decent employers can always obtain decent employes. In San Francisco, Japanese are also taking the places of women assistants in shops. If the honorable member prefers Japanese-

Mr Wilson - I do not. I object to their introduction into this country.

Mr SPENCE - In that case I regard his interjection as irrelevant. The position of affairs in California has created such an agitation that the Legislature has already passed resolutions calling upon the Government of the United States to take action in the matter, and thoughtful men are pointing out that, whereas theintroduction of the negro slaves has created a race problem too large for the best intelligences of America, a second race problem is now being created in California and in Nevada. The immigration restriction laws of America are more severe and complete than are ours, but, in spite of them, the States which I have mentioned are being swamped by persons of this coloured race about which there has been, so much noise lately. It is absurd to say that the Japanese have no desire to emigrate. Emigration from that country is organized, and it must be known to the Government, so that it is nonsense to say that steps are being taken to prevent it. It could not be prevented. I do not say that our Immigration Restriction Act cannot be improved, but it should be improved in the direction of making it more stringent and certain in its application. The statistics given bv the honorable member for Kennedy should impress the House. The number of Japanese which have entered Australia since we passed the Immigration Restriction Act is very large in relation to our population. The desertion of prohibited immigrants from ships, to which the honorable member for Newcastle referred, is, of course, a common occurrence in the United States. But the deliberate importation of Japanese to which I have referred is more important there, and1' the operations of the companies of which I have spoken would be directed to Australia if we relaxed our present precautions. I do not say that the substitution of the word1 " prescribed1 " for the word "European" will necessarily allow more prohibited immigrants to come here, though I am rather suspicious of the motive underlying the proposal. Undoubtedly the Japanese wish to be placed on the same footing as other peoples, and to have all restrictions on their immigration here removed. I do not pay much regard to the talk which we have heard in regard to their sensitiveness in respect to the wording of the present Act. That measure is somewhat hypocritical in its language. It was intended1 from the very beginning that coloured aliens should be kept out of Australia, and the method adopted for keeping them out has been to subject applicants for admission to an examination in some language with which they were unacquainted. I am afraid, however, that all our officials are not sympathetic towards the law, and that such influence is brought to bear by those connected with the shipping business, and others, that the Act ls not too strictly administered1. I would' prefer an Act which would provide that all members of certain specified white races might come here, and that all other people would be' excluded. It is too late this session to discuss such a proposal, but I think that such legislation should be passed by us. No doubt, I shall be told that the Governor-General could not assent to it ; but let it be sent to the old country, to see if the authorities there would' refuse assent to an honest and straightforward declaration that we decline to allow the white race here to be deteriorated by the admixture of alien and inferior blood, and wish to prevent the creation of a race problem such as confronts the American people. Eventually we must pass such a measure. When we have an Act of that kind on the statute-book, there will be no question of trusting our officials. I am satisfied that a certain number of aliens now slip in in various ways - by deserting from, ships, and by getting ashore from pearling fleets. The North Queensland' papers frequently contain advertisements offering rewards for pearlers who have run away, and who remain in this country because they are better treated than they would be in their own country, and are, therefore,- likely to send home for their families and friends. Such an Act as I speak of would prevent the immigration of all undesirable peoples. Australia runs more risk of being swamped by Eastern nations now than she did when the Immigration Restriction Act was passed, and therefore we should be careful to leave no loop-hole by which an undesirable immigrant may enter. I pay no regard to the sentimental sensitiveness that has been made the excuse for the introduction of the Bill.

Mr McDonald - We have not heard that the Natal Act has been amended.

Mr SPENCE - No, though possibly the people of that country are not so anxious as we are to keep out aliens. I believe that all political parties in Australia are convinced that this country should be kept for a white race, but all our officials do not hold that view, nor do all members of this House. At any rate, one honorable member is in favour of making an arrangement with the Japanese for the admission of certain of their people. America's experience during the last two or three years should show us that it would' be absurd to make a treaty with the Japanese on this subject. Such action would not have the effect of preventing the immigration of Japanese to this country. We should see that our laws are so framed and administered that all coloured races will be kept out of the Commonwealth.

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