Views on the Japanese problem in the Hawaiian Islands, differing very greatly from those held by many people on the mainland of the United States, and particularly in California, were expressed by Mr. S. Gray, Town Clerk to the Mount Eden Borough Council, who returned by the Niagara yesterday after a health trip to Honolulu. Mr. Gray compared the advance made in the Hawaiian Islands with that of the British colony of Fiji, and while giving the Americans credit for the commercial progress evident in the northern group said that it was due to the taste introduced with the Spanish mission type of architecture and the introduction of outside capital, much of which was British, that Honolulu in particular had been made be attractive to the visitor. He was of the opinion, however, that the policy of the Americans toward the Japanese was short-sighted as it was on the supply of Japanese labour that the success of the cane-growing industry depended. Out of a total population of approximately 255,000 in all the islands of the territory, 110,000 were Japanese and everywhere he found that the white people of the group had a good word for them. He found that the Japanese were particularly well behaved and in business and as workers they could be depended upon. Sugar planters had assured him that the Japanese were most suited to the strenuous work of cane cutting while the Chinese, of whom there were about 13,000 in the country, filled their part equally well in the weeding of the cane fields so essential to the healthy growth of the cane. It was apparent, said Mr. Gray, that the native Hawaiians, although numbering about 20,000, could not be induced to take any considerable part in the development of their country and in view of the fact that the Japanese, after a few years residence in the islands, gravitated to the lighter forms of employment and engaged largely in business, it was necessary that no very serious restriction should be placed on the immigration of Japanese if the agricultural industries on which the life of the group depended were to enjoy continued prosperity. In this connection Mr. Gray mentioned that the area under sugar was already diminishing as there was difficulty in getting suitable labour and the pressure of opinion on the mainland was making the conditions in the islands such that the inflow of Japanese was being restricted. The white population, said Mr. Gray, was something less than 10 per cent, of the entire population, but he found many British people holding prominent positions in the business and professional life of the community. Many Chinese and Japanese were extremely well-to-do, and in their business relations with the white people inspired confidence to a considerable degree. From his own observations and from information gathered while in the group, Mr. Gray was able to say that prohibition was not being enforced to the extent intended by the Eighteenth Amendment, and sly-grog selling was prevalent. Illicit stills there were in plenty, and many of the Chinese and Japanese had become rich since the introduction of prohibition, not only in traffic in liquor but in the importation and distribution of drugs. The future race mixture in the Hawaiian Islands was the subject of some comment by the visitor who mentioned that the remaining 50,000 people comprised Portuguese, negroes and importations from the countries of Central and South America. Inter-marriage was going on steadily and what type would eventually evolve was very hard to say.
New Zealand Herald,
18 December 1922