Title: "Plan to Colonize Japanese Probed," Seattle Times, 3/21/1919, (ddr-densho-56-319)
Densho ID: ddr-densho-56-319


Orientals Said to Be Negotiating for 800,000 Acres in Mexico Near Border.


Special by Leased Wire.

WASHINGTON, D.C., Friday, March 21. -- An alleged scheme of a Japanese syndicate to colonize a vast tract of land in Northern Mexico adjoining California is being investigated by the State Department.

According to the accounts which have reached the department the California & Mexican Land & Cattle Co., with headquarters in Los Angeles, has been engaged for some time in negotiations for the sale of 800,000 acres of land in Mexico at the head of the Gulf of California to a Japanese concern interested in exploiting large properties.

The Japanese who approached the owners of the Mexican land are understood to have stated that they had in view the development of a great agricultural project with Japanese labor. The plan is said to call for the transportation of thousands of Japanese and their families to Mexico, where they would be established on the threshold of the United States.

Transmitted by Senator.

The reports of the negotiations were transmitted to the State Department by Senator Phelan of California. The senator said that according to is information the deal was practically closed. his letter, however, did not indicate clearly that it was a Japanese syndicate seeking to obtain the Mexican tract.

The department called for further information, which was obtained by the senator and received here today. This additional information indicated the conviction on the part of some of the persons concerned in the negotiations that the brokers seeking to purchase the tract represented Japanese capital.

After reviewing the statements made by Senator Phelan, Acting Secretary of State Polk instructed the division of Mexican affairs to investigate the reports.

May Ask Explanation.

If the inquiry should substantiate the reports that so large a tract of land adjoining the United States is being purchased by a Japanese syndicate, the investigation will extend to the relations between the syndicate and the Japanese government, which would be called upon for an explanation of the scheme.

A close relationship between the Japanese government and a Japanese syndicate purchasing land adjoining the United States would make the deal repugnant to the provisions of Lodge resolution, passed by the Senate in 1912. There had been repeated rumors in that year of a scheme of the Japanese government to get possession of Magdalena Bay in Lower California. It was alleged that a Japanese company was buying land around the bay from Mexico.

Secretary Knox investigated and eventually informed the Senate that there had been some negotiations for the sale of land on Magdalena Bay by American owners to a Japanese syndicate, but that the deal fell through because the Japanese syndicate could not obtain the sanction of the Japanese government, which made its approval conditional upon approval of the purchase by the United States.

In order, however, to put the nation on record against the granting of concessions which might be utilized by foreign governments to the detriment of the United States, Senator Lodge obtained the adoption by the Senate of a resolution providing:

"That when any harbor or other place on the American continent is so situated that the occupation thereof for naval or military purposes might threaten the communications or the safety of the United States, the government of the United States should not see without grave concern the possession of such harbor or other place by any corporation or assoiation [association] which has such a relation to another government, not American, as to give that government practical power or control for naval or military purposes."

A few years ago another sensation was caused by a Japanese cruiser going aground in Turtle Bay, Lower California. Rumors spread that this was not an accident, but a subterfuge covering a design of Japan to obtain a foothold on the American continent. These reports Japan strenuously denied, and eventually the cruiser was floated and sailed away.