It has long been a source of irritation to Asiatic nations that some countries insist upon excluding their nationals because they belong to the yellow race. To avoid exclusion of Japanese because of this there exists today a gentleman's agreement between Japan and the United States that Japan will not allow her laborers to come to this country, and it must be said that this agreement has honestly been kept. The arrangement does not establish race equality; it merely postpones the issue.
The question of race equality as put forward at the peace conference involves not only the race question proper, but also the economic question of immigration of a type of labor which does not strive for a standard of living equal to our own. Japan, with reference to the Chinese recognizes this economic phase of the question. Only recently a large number of Chinese laborers who were brought to Japan under contract to work for fifty cents a day for three years were sent home at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars to the Japanese company that imported the Chinese, it having been discovered, after protest had been made by Japanese labor, that the company had failed to get the consent of the governor of the district to bring in the Chinese. Japan, as against China, does not hesitate to exercise the right to exclude laborers not wanted.
To provide for race equality in the League of Nations covenant would be quite logical, as far as abstract equality between nations goes, but the economic phase of the proposal would be sure to produce friction. And even though the recognition of race equality were supplemented by a gentleman's agreement not to exercise the rights awarded in the league treaty, it is likely that such an agreement would sooner or later be repudiated.
The right to regulate immigration must continue to be a right that each nation shall be free to interpret for itself.