Japanese Alien Land Law Investigation Records

John Sayer
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections
University of the Pacific Library
3601 Pacific Ave.
Stockton, CA 95211
Phone: (209) 946-2404
Fax: (209) 946-2942
URL: http://www.pacific.edu/Library/Find/Holt-Atherton-Special-Collections.html
© 2008
University of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

Japanese Alien Land Law Investigation Records

Collection number: MSS 323

Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections

University of the Pacific Library

Stockton, California
Processed by:
John Sayer
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
John Sayer
© 2008 University of the Pacific. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: japanese alien land law investigation records
Dates: 1912-1948
Collection number: MSS 323
Collector: Japanese American Citizens League
Collection Size: 2.25 linear feet
Repository: University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of Special Collections
Stockton, California 95211
Abstract: The collection consists of materials related to 19 investigations into Japanese-owned properties focused in San Joaquin County and escheat cases that resulted from them.
Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Preferred Citation

japanese alien land law investigation records. MSS 323. Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library.

Biography / Administrative History

The 1913 Alien Land Law enacted in California limited aliens ineligible for citizenship to only any property rights guaranteed in treaties with their respective countries. Effectively, this targeted aliens from Japan, since they were unable to apply for citizenship under the immigration laws at that time, and the 1911 U.S.-Japan treaty made no mention of property rights. Violations of the law would result with the property in question being escheated to (confiscated by) the state. Despite this barrier, Japanese immigrants continued to increase their land holdings in California. Several methods for circumventing the law grew common in the years following. These included purchasing land in the name of a child and holding it under guardianship, or forming an agricultural corporation to hold the land. Anti-Japanese lobbyists grew increasingly discontented, and in 1920 a new, more restrictive Alien Land Law was placed on the ballot and passed. This new version was intended to prevent the circumventions of the 1913 law that had become common. It stated that when a person purchased land in another's name, it was assumed that this was intended to bypass the law. The burden of proof was also shifted to the defendant. The defendant would now have to prove that the land had not been purchased as it was in order to circumvent the Alien Land Law. The Law was challenged in 1948, in Oyama v. California. Fred Oyama sued the State of California, arguing that his rights as a citizen had been violated when the state confiscated the land in Los Angeles that his non-citizen father had held in his name. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, and overturned a portion of the 1920 law. The entire law was overturned in 1952, in Fujii v. California. During the period that the Alien Land Laws were in effect, the state filed 76 escheat proceedings.
The Alien Land Laws appear to have had a significant effect on Japanese living in San Joaquin County. Many in the county were under investigation by the state, with the aim of finding their land holdings in violation of the Land Laws.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of materials related to 19 investigations into Japanese-owned properties and escheat cases that resulted from them. These materials are primarily court documents, evidence, records, and materials gathered during investigations. These would be useful to researchers looking for insight into the methods used by the Attorney General's office in investigating and trying the escheat cases, and the types of information they collected about Japanese immigrant families residing in and around San Joaquin County. This collection contains several documents related to the Oyama trial, including the legal brief of the case, in folders 1.2 and 4.4. Several of the subseries, such as Terumitsu Akita, Sadaki Higashi & Jiichi Motoike, and Kiyoshi Watanabe, contain large amounts of material, especially evidence used by the District Attorney's office, related to those cases.
The collection also contains more general or miscellaneous materials more broadly related to Alien Land Law investigations in San Joaquin County, correspondence to and from the District Attorney's office, agent reports, and indexes. These materials could be used to examine how agents of the District Attorney's office conducted investigations, and how the District Attorney corresponded with other counties, and how he reacted to the Oyama case.
There are also two photographs: the first is of Japanese-American students in front of a Stockton Buddhist Church, and the other shows a mix of Asian-Pacific American students at a conference. The majority of the documents in the collection date from the 1930s and 1940s. These materials were provided by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Prior to their acquisition by the JACL, the materials in the collection were housed in the San Joaquin County Courthouse.


The materials in the collection were donated in two 1 linear foot boxes. The original order of the labeled folders inside the boxes is reflected in the inventory. Although folder titles have been maintained the collection has been arranged into three series, in order to present the collection in a more coherent manner for the patron. The first series contains the general and miscellaneous materials related to Alien Land Law investigations, correspondence, reports and indexes. The second series contains the materials related specifically to 19 investigations into Japanese-owned properties and escheat cases that came out of them. This series is arranged alphabetically by plaintiff or defendant's last name. The third series contains photographs. The Original Inventory contains detailed information on specific materials contained in each folder.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
San Joaquin County (Calif)
Alien property - California
Japanese - California - Legal status, laws, etc

Container List


Series 1: General Materials

Box  1



1.1 Original Inventory


1.2 Alien Land Investigation Matters 1943, 1946 (contains Oyama legal brief)


1.3 Alien Land Law- General Matters 1946


1.4 Alien Land Law- Misc. 1942-1946


1.5 Alien Land Law- Cases - Refund of expenses 1945


1.6 Chancellor Bookkeeping Blank Record (notebook), undated (Japanese language, contains garment templates and measurements)


1.7 Correspondence on Japanese Matters (to and from Chester Watson, San Joaquin District Attorney) 1944-1946


1.8 Fresno Assembly Center Directory 1942


1.9 General File 1944- 1946


1.10 The History of the California Japanese Problem and the part played by the Native Sons of the Golden West in its Solution 1942


1.11 Index of Escheat Cases 1946


1.12 Index of Japanese Owned Property, undated


1.13 J.H Mulvey- Special Agent of the Attorney General 1943-1945 (reports)


1.14 Report of Property of Japanese Aliens held by Trustees 1920-1942


1.15 Summary of Cases 1947


1.16 Teasdale Daily Reports- Private 1944


1.17 Photographs (Japanese-American students at a Stockton Buddhist Church Sept. 3, 1940; Asian-Pacific American students at a conference, Apr. 27 or 28, 1940)


Series 2: Plaintiffs and Defendants

Box 2


Subseries 1: Akita 1944-1945


2. 1 The People of the State of California v. Terumitsu Akita, Yoshie Akita, Hideko Akita 1944-1945


2.2 The People of the State of California v. Terumitsu Akita, Yoshie Akita, Hideko Akita (documents) 1944-1945


2.3 Akita Matter 1944


2.4 T. Akita 1944-1945


2.5 Akita- Statements 1944


2.6 Akita and Hayashi- Statement Copies 1944


2.7 Akita Bank Account 1944


Subseries 2: Arata 1945


2.8 Arata, Takumi (evidence & reports) 1945


2.9 District Attorney of San Joaquin County- Arata extra copies undated

Box  3


Subseries 3: Asano 1947


3.1 Asano vs. People, et al., #38810 1947


3.2 Alien Land Law Misc. (Asano), 1947


Subseries 4: Higashi & Motoike 1929-1948


3.3 S. Hagashi - Motoika 1945-1948


3.4 People vs. Higashi, et al., 1947


3.5 Sanguinetti (land) Agreement 1929


3.6 Hagashi - Sanguinetti 1929-1937


3.7 Motoike & Higashi A (evidence) 1929-1945


3.8 Motoike & Higashi B (correspondence) 1947-48


3.9 Motoike & Higashi C (reports) 1946


3.10 Motoike & Higashi Subpoenas 1946


3.11 Motoike & Higashi #2 1929-1946


3.12 Motoike & Higashi #3 1945-1946


Subseries 5: Ayate Hirata 1946


3.13 People vs. Ayate Hirata, et al., #35286 1946


Subseries 6: Roy Hirata 1946-47


3.14 People vs. Roy Hirata, et al., #38804 1947


3.15 Extra Copies of Hirata 1945


3.16 Horita, Takashi Case File 1940-44


Subseries 7: Kinji Ito 1912


3.17 Grant Deed for Kinji Ito 1912


Subseries 8: Matsuhiro 1944


3.18 Matsuhiro Case File 1944


Subseries 9: Nagaoka 1936-1944


3.19 Nagaoka Extra Copies 1936-1944

Box  4


Subseries 10: Nakata 1947


4.1 Nakata et al., vs. People, #39539 1947


Subseries 11: Nishikawa 1947-1948


4.2 Nishikawa vs. State of California 1947-1948


Subseries 12: Nishimura 1936-1944


4.3 Investigation into Property owned by William Yoshio Nishimura 1936-1944


Subseries 13: Oyama 1946


4.4 (Fred) Oyama Etc. et al., Defendants and Appellants Alien Land Law 1946


Subseries 14: Sakioka 1938-1944


4.5 Roy K. Sakioka - Fumiko Mitsuushi 1938-1944


Subseries 15: Shimamoto & Yamanaka 1937-1947


4.6 People of the State of California v. Shimamoto, et al. (Escheat) 1946


4.7 People vs. Shimamoto, et al. Status of Case 1947


4.8 People of the State of California v. Shimamoto, Yamanaka, et al., 1937-1946


4.9 Yamanaka - Extra Copies (statement for evidence) 1946


4.10 Daily Reports (of investigative operative) 1945


Subseries 16: Stockton Theaters Inc. 1935-1946


4.11 People of the State of California vs. Stockton Theaters Inc. 1935-46 (owned by Japanese Americans)


Subseries 17: Uyeda 1934-1947


4.12 People vs. Uyeda - Status of Case 1946


4.13 People vs. Uyeda #2 1941-1946


4.14 People vs. Uyeda - Status of Case 1947


4.15 Extra Copies Uyeda-Bingo 1934-1946


4.16 Evidence Photographs Toshiro Uyeda 1934-46


4.17 Evidence Photographs #2 1934-1946


Subseries 18: Wakita 1915


4.18 Grant Deed for Katsumi Wakita 1915

Box  5


Subseries 19: Watanabe & Hidenori Asano 1941-1947


5.1 People of the State of California vs. Kiyoshi Watanabe, Chii Watanabe, Hidenori Asano 1944


5.2 People vs. Watanabe Status of Case 1947


5.3 Watanabe - Lincoln Propert 1944


5.4 Asano - Watanabe General 1941-1944


5.5 Asano - Watanabe #2 1944


5.6 Watanabe - Asano (court correspondence, documents and briefs) 1944-1946


5.7 Watanabe Asano - Statements from Asano, Thompson, McKisson 1944