The Journal of Economic History

Notes and Discussions

Success Story? Japanese Immigrant Economic Achievement and Return Migration, 1920–1930

Masao Suzukia1

a1 Masao Suzuki is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Millas College, 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94613.

Even in a country whose patron saint is the Horatio Alger hero, there is no parallel to their [the Japanese American] success strory.

The view that Japanese and other Asian Americans constituted an economic success story gained popularity in the mass media and among scholars during the 1960s. At a time when the demands of the Civil Rights movement were challenging the government to redress the racism ingrown in American society, Japanese and other Asian Americans were often held up as “model minorities” who had overcome discrimination through their own efforts and without aid from government laws or service programs2. This practise has led to a debate over both the extent of the successs of Asian Americans and the reasons for their economic achievement3.