Ozawa v. United States, Japanese Immigration, and William Elliot Griffis

Abstract: This article examines the role that William Elliot Griffis’s work played in Ozawa v. United States , in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1922 that Japanese immigrants were not “white persons” and therefore were ineligible to naturalized citizenship. Griffis, a prominent authority on Japan, had spent decades arguing that the Japanese were white. While Ozawa is an important case study in U.S.-Japanese relations and critical race theory, Griffis’s previously unrecognized part in it further demonstrates the durability of racial thought even in the mind of an individual who sought to partially reshape such ideas. Keywords: U.S.-Japanese […]

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