Intermarriage is one sign of the assimilation of a foreign population in their new country. Such marriages, however, often encounter numerous difficulties, from discrimination to cultural tensions between the husband and wife. Racial intermarriage involves the added difficulty of different racial backgrounds, which also create instances of discrimination and problems fitting into the community. The marriages of Japanese women and American men constitute one such intermarried population facing particular problems and issues.
When the Japanese started arriving in the United States in the 1890s, anger about the Chinese was simply transferred to the newcomers, and the focus of hostility and agitation against the Japanese was in California, as had been the case with hostility toward the Chinese. This was also where most of the continental Japanese lived, there being another major population in Hawaii. The United States Industrial commission reported in 1901 that the Japanese were "far less desirable" than the Chinese, and further stated:
They have most of the vices of the Chinese, with none of the virtues. They underbid the Chinese in everything, and are as a class tricky, unreliable, and dishonest (Dinnerstein and Reimers, 1982, 51).
As with certain other ethnic groups, most of the Japanese who came to America in the early years were male, and very few Japanese women came during the 1880s and 1890s. Within two decades, however, many young Japanese males began bringing over wives so that the turn of the century saw the beginning of Japanese female immigration, which continued until the Japanese government curtailed it in 1920. The immigration of Japanese women made the Japanese-American family unit possible and produced a second generation. A unique institution supported this shift in immigration, the Japanese "picture-bride" practice. Most single men either returned to Japan to find wives, an expensive and difficult prop...