Many Japanese immigrants had intended to send large sums of money back home and save enough of their plantation wages for a comfortable life in Japan. Following an inspection tour in 1886, Japanese Consul General Taro Ando complained that "the immigrants had been led to believe that it was easy to earn money in Hawaii." However, the laborers discovered that the wages of a field laborer in the islands barely covered the expenses for eking out a survival leaving little or nothing for savings or for spending money back home.
As the latest ethnic group to be imported for plantation work, Japanese received the lowest wages and poorest treatment on the Hawaiian plantations of the late nineteenth century. In 1892 the Japanese who comprised more than 65 percent of the plantation work force received average monthly wages of about $15.00 as contract laborers and $27.39 as skilled workers. For other nationalities the average monthly wages were $16.04 for contract laborers and $44.86 for skilled laborers and Portuguese $19.25 for contract laborers and $43.77 for skilled laborers. A survey taken shortly after the arrival of the first Japanese government contract laborers revealed that the expenditure by the plantations for housing per month was $6.32 for Japanese, 6.43 for Chinese, $8.00 for Germans, and $9.16 for Portuguese. Such wage and housing differentials were consistently applied by the plantation.