One of the most significant and far reaching issues of the election is the adoption by California by a large majority of the amendment to the alien land-tenure act. The existing law, adopted in 1913, prohibits actual ownership of farm lands to aliens who are ineligible for American citizenship. The amendment, however, takes away from such aliens the privilege of even leasing lands for three years and will place minor land-owning aliens under the guardianship of a public administrator. The movement is based on the apprehension of a menacing increase in Japanese immigration.
Yet figures show that for the present, at least, these apprehensions are unjustified. Moreover, the amendment is in conflict with the present Japanese treaty which permits Japanese residents to "own, hire, and occupy houses, manufactories, warehouses, shops and premises, and lease lands for residential and commercial purposes." The amendment als seems to conflict with the 14th amendment to the constitution which says that "no state shall deny to any person with in its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Japan is very sensitive on this subject. Many Japanese newspapers have even urged war if the amendment were passed. It is significant that the State Department has been in conference with the Japanese Ambassador. It is believed that it has been made clear to him that the movement does not record with existing and applicable provisions of our law, and that it is contrary to the nation's sense of justice. When it is known that Japan is prepared to give assurance that Japanese immigration to America will be restricted, and that negotiations are proceeding with this understanding to conclude a new treaty that will assure Japan of equal rights with other foreign nation. It is inexcusable for the California "scare-mongers" to bend their efforts to us toward embroiling the United States in a dangerous foreign tangle.