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The position of Americans of Asian descent in the United States appears to be integral for modern society as this population contributes to the contemporary culture, politics, and economy to a vast extent. However, less than a hundred years ago, the situation was drastically different as Chinese and Japanese Americans were considered borderline outcasts in American society. Accordingly, as is the case with nearly every nation and country in human history, there are aspects of this time period that could be terrifying and poignant. Therefore, it is important to elaborate on the history of relationships between Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans in the period between 1920 and 1940.
The conflicting nature of the relationships between the identified populations of the United States was largely determined by the political events outside the country. Particularly, the war between China and Japan, which started in 1937, is the crucially important factor as well as the US government’s attitude toward the Asian populations within the country1. Japan was perceived as the enemy and aggressor (moreover, even worse aggressor than Germany), and, naturally, this perception extended to Japanese Americans who lived in the United States2. Thus, the tendency for the distinguishing and distancing of the Chinese from the Japanese was highly evident in this period3.
The second important aspect is Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s tour of the United States that began in 1943. During the tour, the visitors attended numerous cities on the West coast, however, they were on the East coast as well, visiting New York and Washington, DC4. This tour had a large positive impact on the perception of Chinese Americans. Finally, the congressional repeal of the Chinese exclusion acts, which also happened in 1943, remarked the crucial change in the status of the Chinese American population5.
Lee, Johnatan H. X., and Christen T. Sasaki, eds., Asian American History: Primary Documents of the Asian American Experience. San Diego: Cognella Academic Publishing, 2015.
Wong, K. Scott. “From Pariah to Paragon: Shifting Images of Chinese Americans during World War II.” In Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan and Madeline Y. Hsu, 153-172. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
Yoo, David K., and Eiichiro Azuma, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Asian American History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Johnatan H. X. Lee and Christen T. Sasaki, eds., Asian American History: Primary Documents of the Asian American Experience (San Diego: Cognella Academic Publishing, 2015).
- David K. Yoo and Eiichiro Azuma, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Asian American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).
- Wong, K. Scott, “From Pariah to Paragon: Shifting Images of Chinese Americans during World War II,” in Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture, ed. Sucheng Chan and Madeline Y. Hsu (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), 153-156.
- Wong, From Pariah to Paragon, 163.
- Wong, From Pariah to Paragon, 165.