This article covers the controversy that followed the March 16, 1893 escape of prisoner Yosaku Imada to the Japanese warship, the Naniwa, which was docked in Honolulu. Imada’s act of seeking refuge onboard the ship occurred at a time when the provisional government of Hawai‘i had no extradition treaty with Japan. This created a diplomatic event that entangled leaders from Japan, the provisional government, and the United States. To further complicate matters, Issei and Meiji government officials were also pressing for franchise in the Islands, a right that a majority of the community did not have access to at home. By placing Imada’s escape and the Issei fight for voting rights in the context of the uncertainty that followed the January 17, 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, this article emphasizes Hawai‘i’s relevance as a site where inter-imperial dynamics aligned with competing settler colonialisms.

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