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THE GARDEN ISLAND, TUESDAY., FEB. 24, 1920 " 7
Tine Voice off Americainkinni
Honolulu Japanese Merchants' Association,
Tost Office Box 853, Honolulu, T. H.
Your letter of tlie tenth of February enclosing a copy of the Reso
lutions adopted at a meeting of the Honolulu Japanese Merchants'
Association on the eighth of February, 1920, has received the consider
ation of the Trustees of the Hawaiian Sugar Plauters' Association. '
We note that your Association considers that the demands pre
sented by the Federation of Japanese Laborers are just and reason
has taken an attitude of opposition against said demands.
In reply to your letter and the resolutions of your Association w e
The three principal items in the demands of the Japanese Feder
ation of Labor are:
FIRST: That the wage of the lowest paid man on the planta
tions be $1.25 per day and that there shall be a ljke incresas, or 02.34
per cent, in the wages and salaries of all other employees.
SFCOND : That the present bonus system remain unchanged
THIRD: That the provision of the bonus system, requiring a
laborer to work 20 days a month in order to participate in the bonus,
be changed to 15 days per month.
Let us first consider the third demand. It has been the experience
of plantation employers for many years past that as the day wage in
creases the turnout of labor decreases; and while the principal object,
of the bonus system is to provide laborers with a substantial and gen
erous increase in their compensation when the price of sugar is high,
we also had in mind, a provision which would tend to induce a good
turnout of laborers.
We think that there is no injustice in asking an able-bodied man
who is provided, free of charge,,, with house, fuel and medical attend
ance, to work 20. days out of a mouthy or a trifle over days per
week. Prominent Japanese, to whom this question has been submit
ted, have stated that the 20 day provision is a reasonable one.
Let us now consider the first and second demands.
At $1.25 per day the wages of the lowest paid, least skilled, man
on the plantation would be $32.50 per month. The bonus for January
was at the rate of 151.5, or $49.24, making the total earnings of said
man $81.70 for the month. The plantation would retain approximate
ly 25 of the bonus and disburse as a bonus payment 115, so that
the $1.25 man would have received as payment on account of bonus
for January $37.38, making the total wage and bonus $09.87, 'and the
balance, depending on the price of sugar for the year, would be paid
at tilie end of the bonus year. ;
Tiis month, February, the bonus will be 250.5, or $83.35, for a
man on wages of $32.50 per month, making the total earnings of such
a man $115.85 for the month. The plantation retains approximately
25 of the bonus and disburses as a bonus payment 190, so that the
$1.25 man would receive as payment on account of bonus $01.75, mak
ing the total wage and bonus to be paid him for February $94.25.
The above is what the Federation of Japanese Labor demands
shall be paid by the plantation to -their lowest paid, least skilled men,
without regard to the cost of production and marketing of the sugar.
We do not believe that anyone, even the most ardent agitator in
the ranks of the Federation of Labor, thinks that the plantations can
afford to meet such an increase and maintain their existence.
Let us consider what is now -actually being paid to the lowest
paid laborers on the plantation.
The bonus for the month of January was 151.5 and the advance
on account thereof 115. A $20.00 per month man would receive:
Wages '. $20.00
Bonus Advance 23.00
and the balance of the bonus will be paid him at the end of the year,
depending on the price of sugar.
The bonus for the month of February is 250.5 and the advance
on account thereof 190. A $20.00 per month man will receive:
Bonus Advanced 38.00
and the balance of the bonus will be paid him at the end of the yearj
depending on the price of sugar.
It should be borne in mind that the $20.00 per month men are a
very small minority of the employees on the plantations.
The value of the house, fuel and medical attendance furnished
varies on the different plantations, but it certainly is not less than
$10J00 per month on the average.
All men not blinded by passion or prejudice must concede that
the compensation of plantation hands is not only adequate but most
generous. In this connection it is interesting to note that, notwith
standing the fact that the Japanese have been on strike for a month,
we have been informed and read in Japanese newspapers that there
have been very few requests made of the Federation of Labor for as
sistance, and laborers have stated that they have sufficient money on
hand to live in idleness for some months. This is an absolute contra
diction of the charges made concerning the impoverished condition of
the laborers and their inability to save.
We are forced, therefore, to the conclusion that this strike was
not brought about by the conditions of employment. From statements
made by Japanese plantation hands to managers, we know that the
majority of the men are satisfied with their earnings and conditions of
employment and do not want to strike, and if free to exercise their
own wills would return to work immediately.
The movement was started by the Japanese newspapers and agi
tators, aided and abetted by the Japanese school teachers and priests.
The Federation has. impressed upon the laborers the absolute
necessity of obeying their leaders and, to keep them in line, has ap
pealed to the Japanese national spirit and has made use of the well
known national feelings and characteristics of the Japanese to .hold
them together. Working upon the sentiments of their less educated
fellow countrymen, they have effected an organization which is a men
ace to every man, woman and child of this Territory of whaterever
Pei(haps you are not aware of some of the workings of the Japan
ese, organization. We do not profess to know all that is going on, but
certain things have come to our notice.
The Japanese on the plantations struck on order of the Feder
ation of Labor without making requests or demands of any nature.
The excuse that they were instructed to furnish was that the Filipinos
were preventing them from working. Then when ample protection
was offered and they could no longer hide behind this pretense, they
were told to say that they were laying off to show the Filipinos that
they were with them and would return to work shortly. All the while
hey were perfecting their organization and appointing surveillance
committees on each plantation.
When this was completed to the satisfaction of their leaders, they
then assumed an attitude of complete indifference, and, still without
demands in most instances, absolutely refused to work.
Now as to the methods adopted by the Federation of Labor:
We soon became cognizant of the oath taken by the men that if
oue man should be discharged all would consider themselves discharg
ed. Statements of this nature have been made by the men to the
managers secretly and at night aud that they wished to work but were
bound by their oaths.
Then we had the by-laws of the Federation of the Island of Ha
waii, and without doubt each Island Federation has adopted similar
rules and regulations. We found therein a provision that any mem
ber failing to obey the orders of the Federation would be reported to
the officials of his permanent domicile in Japan, where his family
would be scorned, ridiculed and ostracised. Because of the character
istics of the Japanese people, no more powerful weapon for keeping
plantation laborers in line could have been devised by the Federation
That this was intended as a real threat is shown by the advertise
ments in the Japanese newspapers where Japanese who have continu
ed to work at Waipahu are advertised and held up to the scorn of the
Japanese communily here aud at home.
The evidence of the Federation's hold upon the laborers accumu
lates from day to day.
At Waialua in the week preceding the 19th of January, fields in
the Waialua and Mokulcia sections of the plantation were burned
preparatory to cutting. On the following day the Japanese promised
that they would harvest these fields and did harvest the fields in the
Waialua section. Late Monday afternoon one of the Federation agi
tators, reported to have been Mr. Fujitani, went to Waialua and
ordered the Japanese not to turn out on Tuesday to harvest the field
On Tuesday the Japanese did not turn out to harvest said field.
And yet we read in the Japanese newspapers how the Japanese
laborers at Waialua kept their promise.
Again at Waialua we hear of the skilled men earning large sal
aries and not interested at all in this strike, working only with the
permission of the Federation of Labor.
One of the fundamentals of all modern governments is that an
accused person may not be tried or convicted until he has been faced
by his accuser. At Kahuku we find an alien race, setting up its own
tribunal to deal with its own people. The Japanese Federation of
Labor provided a receptacle wherein any one could place the name of
any Japanese who might be seen speaking to a white employee of the
plantation. This is comparable only with the Lion's Mouth in the
Doge's Palace and to the procedure of the Spanish Inquisition.
And yet the "Xippu Jiji'' states that the attitude of the planta
tions is that of the "despot of the dark ages."
The statements of the Federation are full of misrepresentation
and deceit. In the "Voice of Labor" it is statcd, for instance, that
the Hawaiian Agricultural Company charges $4.00 a cord for fire
wood to laborers. The truth is that live men were charged the nomi
nal sum of $4.00 per cord for fuel for the reason that their wives do
the laundry work for the district. One poi manufacturer and 'one
"tofu" manufacturer were charged for firewood. The "Voice of Labor"
fails to mention, however, that the Hawaiian Agricultural Company
is now, and for a long time past, has been supplying its laborers with
beef for only 120 per pound and1 milk at only 8c per quart. The
price of beef in Honolulu ranges from 20 to 40 cents per pound, and
milk from Hi cents to 20 cents per quart.
Such statements by the Federation of Labor only serve to furnish
ammunition to those in this community who aver that the Japanese
are not appreciative and have no sense of gratitude.
For a whole month the plantations on this Island have refrained
from taking action toward requesting the bulk of their laborers either
to work or give up their living quarters. While occupying the planta
tion houses free of charge, receiving plantation fuel, having water
pumped to their houses and receiving plantation medical treatment,
these laborers, on order of the Federation, have refrained fromwork
ing, and to further aggravate the situation, patrolled the camps of
other laborers and prevented those of other nationalities who desire
to work from so doing.
As to the movement being an anti-American one, we firmly be
lieve that it is so from the manner of its inception, from the personnel
of those behind it, from the statements in the Japanese press and
from the speeches of those officials of the Federation of Labor whom
we have been able to check.
The Waialua Japanese Labor Union emblazons its letter paper
with the flag it loves and will Mhfv not the Start and, Stripes, but
the Kising Min of Japan crossed with the cane knife and the hoe.
All of which we submit shows the strangle hold of the Federation
on the laborers, which we propose to break, no matter what the cost.
We are sorry that the good men must suffer with the bad, but
there can be no compromise or deviation from the lines that we have
Very truly yours,
Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association
By Royal D. Mead
February 18, 1920