Japs Bringing Frightful Disease(April 2, 1905)San Francisco, California. Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle
Yellow Peril

Directed against Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century, the "yellow peril" racial epithet played a role in the World War II incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry. In California and other western states, opportunistic politicians, journalists, and labor unions warned that hordes of Japanese would overrun the United States, take control, and corrupt and contaminate the white race. These slurs had earlier been directed at Chinese laborers. In stereotypical images, Asians were depicted as menacing, clawed creatures. They were declared inferior to whites, but at the same time attributed mysterious “Oriental” powers and devious plans. Newspapers claimed that Issei workers could survive worse living conditions than whites, and greatly exaggerated the birth rate among Issei women. Japan’s military expansion in the early part of the century accelerated “yellow peril” warnings that an invasion of the continent was imminent. For the longtime foes of the Japanese in America, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor pitted the United States not just against an enemy nation but against an enemy race.

 

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"Japs Bringing Frightful Disease"(April 2, 1905)
San Francisco, California
Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Excerpt from Densho Archive


There will be no danger from the yellow peril if the race is kept up in the Caucasian nations…The life of the Aryan race has been carried on by outlying barbarous tribes, and in no case by the highly civilized. This is our weak point. Race suicide is the name of the danger, and this danger is right on us. The other strong points of the yellow race are secondary to their power in reproduction. The yellow race has a strong point in the selection and preparation of its food. They thus secure a maximum of energy at a minimum of cost.

"Race Suicide in America"

San Francisco Chronicle, May 10, 1905