On her arrival in San Francisco on February 17, Sanger began giving interviews as well as speaking to consular officials about securing a visa to enter Japan. The Japanese consulate announced late that day that it had been instructed to refuse a visa to Sanger's passport, forbidding her to set foot in Japan. Without the visa, Sanger could not purchase a ticket on the Taiyo Maru.
The press took to Sanger, intrigued by her combination of femininity and resolve: "Slender and charmingly gowned in simple well cut blue gown relieved with touches of color, Mrs. Sanger did not look exactly like a person who has served prison sentences for violation of the law. She fitted rather well into the conventional atmosphere of her suite in the Hotel St. Francis. And yet Margaret Sanger was on her way to disseminate a propaganda which had been officially declared 'without the law' throughout the United States."
Shichitaro Yada to Kosai Uchida
February 19, 1922
On February 17, an American male [J. Noah Slee], a self-proclaimed friend of Mrs. Sanger, who would accompany her [to Japan], appeared in person at the consulate with her child [Grant Sanger] (I later learned that he was Mrs. Sanger's manager). He showed me her passport with his own and asked me to grant visas.[A] I granted a visa only to him, noting that I was not allowed to grant her a visa because of the order of the Japanese government. He then called Mrs. Sanger who was meeting a number of visitors at a local hotel.[B] She appeared at the consulate shortly and observed:
"My plan to visit Japan is not an idea that occurred to me today. Mr. Yamamoto of the Kaizo journal asked me to come to Japan to give five lectures, and I accepted the invitation. The plan has already become widely known in Japan. So, I cannot understand why I was prohibited from migrating just before the sailing without hearing anything from Mr. Yamamoto about the cancellation of the agreement. I suspect that the Japanese government read a misleading report on me. In any event, I plan to visit not only Japan but also China and India on this trip. Then, is it possible for me to be granted a visa only for sightseeing?"
I explained the order of the government to her as described in your telegraph no. 21.[C] She appeared to be greatly disappointed with it and observed:
"I have friends and acquaintances that support my opinion in Japan, and I am certain that among the educated class, there are a great many people who understand my views.[D] However, the Japanese government decided not to grant me a visa, which can be taken as a sign of their opposition to my views. Since I purchased a ticket to Shanghai, I will continue my trip in any event and wait on board the ship until the Japanese government will dispel their misunderstanding of me and give me permission to land. I know that influential Japanese politicians will also be on board.[E] If I explain to them that my opinions are not against public morals, I am sure they will sympathize with my situation and give assistance to me."
I had no authority to prohibit her from making a voyage to Shanghai without a visa, but I warned her that she may possibly be refused landing in Japan.
Also, local newspapers started, as usual, carrying articles on this case with headlines that read something like: "The Japanese Government Refused Mrs. Sanger."[F]
This telegram has been forwarded to the Ambassador to the United States without being decoded.
E.The Japanese delegation to the Washington Naval Conference also planned to sail on the Taiyo-Maru from San Francisco. This conference was attended by delegations from the world's largest naval powers in an effort to reduce the threat of another war in the wake of rising Japanese militarism. ("Washington Conference," Encyclopedia Britannica Online (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/636484/Washington-Conference)
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F.The story was widely covered in American newspapers on February 18, with articles such as: "Margaret Sanger Advocate of Birth Control, Halted in S. F. by Japanese Orders," in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Tokio Bars Mrs. Sanger: No Birth Control for Nipponese is Official View," in the Los Angeles Times, and "Barred by Japan" in the Chicago Tribune. In New York, the headline to the Tribune's article read, "Japan Won't Admit Mrs. Sanger, Head of Birth Control League," while the Times went with "Tokio Bars Mrs. Sanger From Making Tour of Japan to Lecture on Birth Control."
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