Dr. Ji-Yeon Yuh Interview

00:02 I’m Ji-Yeon Yah, associate professor of history and director of Asian American studies at Northwestern University and during World War Two, American soldiers were stationed overseas in Europe and in Asia and particularly in Europe, and they began to get engaged with and marry local women and the War Brides Act of 1945 was specifically designed to allow these soldiers to bring back their fiances and their wives. And in fact the war brides. It also allowed for boatloads of women two come to the United states, uh, to meet their husbands and their new in- laws and or to meet just their in-laws if their new husbands were still stationed overseas. And these boats came in primarily from Great Britain in 1945, Asians were prohibited from immigrating to the United States. And the only country that was allowed to send immigrants to the United States was China. And that was provisionally. It was a very small quota per year. And that was allowed only beginning in 1941 because China was an ally of the US in World War Two.

01:15 But Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese were not allowed into the United States at all. And the War Brides Act did not cover them in this became a point of contention, um, after 1945 in particular for American soldiers stationed in Japan because they began to socialize with and fall in love with the local women in Japan and they want to marry and bring them over and they felt that they were being discriminated against. They said, why is it that our comrades in Europe can bring over their fiances and their wives? But those of us stationed in Japan cannot. And so congress passed a series of exceptions to the war brides act amendments, which gave basically a grace period saying from x month to x month, soldiers in Japan can bring over their wives of Asian ancestry to United States despite the prohibition against doing so. This happened in 1947. (When did it end?) Officially never. In 1952, the US Immigration and naturalization laws were changed.

02:35 And uh, that law for the first time since 1924 eliminated the prohibition against migration from the United States, I’m sorry, against migration from Asia. And also overturned the US naturalization law that prohibited Asian immigrants from naturalize as us, and it was only after the 1952 Act that woman from Asia could enter the United States as wise of American citizens. But that was because women from Asia, men from Asia could enter simply as immigrants under other categories. Um, I really haven’t seen any research done on that, but I do know that there were a number just anecdotal sort of cases where they couldn’t come over. And one of the brides that I had interviewed, um, she was Korean and her fiance was transferred to Japan during the Korean War and she followed him to Japan and somehow managed to get a visa to enter the United States. But that was during one of the, uh, amended sort of grace periods, the amendments allowed.03:59 And she talked about how she really had to think carefully because she was thinking, what’s the point of dating this guy if I can’t marry him and be with him in his own country. So that was a real issue for her. Um, and it was an issue that the Korean war overose, because that point she felt that she didn’t want to be in, uh, Korea, she didn’t want to have to deal with the war and so she was going to do everything she could to make her way to the United States with her fiance. And she said that she was very lucky that this grace period, you know, popped up, popped up in 1951. (How many?) Um, yes, there’s been about a 70,000 Japanese war brides who came in. Um, there’s been about 100,000 Korean War brides that have come in there then. Then there are also Filipino war brides and Vietnamese war brides. Read more...