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of the labourers in this locality built their own houses, as the camps were unfit for them to live in. The camps need immediate improvement; they are unfit for human habitation, both from the moral and sanitary point of view."
The chief weakness of the strike, it is said, lay in the fact that it was conducted on a national line for the benefit of the Japanese alone. But viewing the situation impartially, it is difficult to see how the strikers could avoid the course, when their demand was that they be treated as were the labourers of other nationalities, in respect of wages and living quarters. Apart from the question of whether or not the Caucasian labourers were themselves treated squarely, the strikers were willing to work if they were only paid as much daily wages as the Caucasian plantation hands were paid for work of the same amount and nature. The manifesto of the strikers made this point fairly clear. I quote the following passage with all its picturesque expressions :
“The demand for higher wages is based on the efficiency of our labouring class. Fair, impartial, and competent witnesses all agree in that Japanese plantation labourers accomplish work of the same amount and quality as is done by other labourers in a given time. We believe that the planters will also agree in this. Wages are a reward for services rendered, and a just wage is that which compensates labour to the full value of the service rendered by him. It is an unjust wage to pay the labourer less than the real value of the work performed by him. Here we do not propose to discuss whether the planters could afford to pay more than $22.50 a month to ordinary unskilled labour on the plantations, though we are of the opinion that they can pay far more than that sum. Let us take that sum as
a just reward for the labourer from Porto Rico and Portugal. If a labourer comes from Japan and he performs the same quantity of work of the same quality within the same period of time as those who hail from the opposite side of the world, what good reason is there to discriminate one against the other? It is not the colour of his skin or hair, or the language he speaks, or manners and customs that grow cane in the field.”
In condemning the strike the planters asserted that Japanese labourers themselves were by no means so dissatisfied as to wage war against their employés, and that the strike was started at the instigation of a few educated Japanese who had nothing whatever to do with plantation work. We agree that the discontent among the labourers was awakened by outsiders, but that does not in the least affect the justice of the cause for which the leaders of the strike laboured. In no country have the workingmen been aroused to the sense of their inherent rights and been stirred to action without the guidance and leadership of those men whose visions reached beyond the narrow horizon of the present. Whether the engineers of the Japanese strike had their own axes to grind we cannot say, but that there existed circumstances which justified a strike no one can gainsay.
The strike was on the whole a failure. Famishing labourers, with their wives and children stricken with hunger, are no match for modern capitalists organized and disciplined to the highest state of efficiency. Moreover, the planters had the authorities on their side and acted much as they pleased in handling the strikers. Although the strikers were so law-abiding and quiet that the citizens of Honolulu called the strike the “gentlemen's strike," their leaders were all arrested and imprisoned. Mr. Soga, editor of the Nipopu Jiji, the Japanese newspaper in Honolulu, which championed the cause of the strikers, was indicted on more than twenty charges from misdemeanour to conspiracy. Without search warrants or any legal right whatsoever, the planters caused the police authorities to break into the offices of the journal and of other strike leaders, and even forced open the safes in search of incriminating evidence. The Chief Justice of the Territory, even while confirming the sentence on Mr. Negoro, one of the strike leaders, to imprisonment, plainly admitted that such illegal acts were perpetrated with impunity. He said: “There were papers taken from the office of the defendant, Negoro, without process of law and forcibly, including correspondence. Defendant's claim that the evidence was inadmissible because illegally obtained was not sustained.”
Whatever the planters may have to say in justification of their side of the case, such misuse of administrative and judiciary authority was deplorable and left an ineffaceable stain on the pages of Hawaiian history. The Territory, as the outpost of American civilization, should have administered its laws and meted out justice in a manner that would win the respect of the many diverse races residing within its jurisdiction not only for the courts and laws but for the American people and their civilization. How can we expect the
inferior” races from the Orient to cherish loyalty and confidence for our government and institutions when the powers of our government are employed in an arbitrary and despotic manner in order to subserve the interests of a few captains of industry?
The strike, however, was not entirely without good results. The planters have been improving the living quarters of the plantation labourers and have also raised
the scale of wages, though they take special pains to make it appear that such measures have been adopted quite independently of the strike and entirely of their own accord. At present the wages of the Japanese plantation hands vary from $20 to $22. In addition they receive a certain amount of bonus, provided they work twenty days per month for twelve successive months. Including the bonus the monthly earnings of the plantation labourers should range from $22 to $24. Before this new schedule of wages went into effect in 1912, Dr. Clark, of the United States Bureau of Labour, speaking of the wages of plantation labourers in Hawaii, had this to say: “The lowest rate is $18 a month. Though this is nearly 50 per cent. more than was paid in the days of contract labour, it is, at present prices, little more than a subsistence wage for an Oriental with a family. ... Tropical labourers, even the Orientals, having no winter rest season, do not work every day; and the average actual earnings of these employés probably do not much exceed, if they exceed at all, $15
What would be the average actual earnings of the Japanese hands under the new schedule it is difficult to say, but, judging from what is on paper at any rate, they should be as much as I have above stated.
The strike showed one thing with clearness, namely, that the Orientals could no longer be relied upon to work for starvation wages. In a vague unconscious way the Oriental "man with the hoe." has caught the spirit of freedom upon which the great Republic is founded. He has begun to realize that he is no longer
"A thing that grieves not and that never hopes,
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox.!!
Here, in the islands of Hawaii, the East has met the West, and the aggressive, restless, nervous Occident is gradually infusing a new spirit into the naturally passive and self-abnegating minds of the Oriental people. Liberty and democracy, in whatever form they may express themselves, must ultimately conquer the world.