Japanese Canadian internment
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Japanese Canadian Internment refers to detainment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia following the attack on the United States' Naval Station Pearl Harbor during World War II. The forced relocation of Japanese Canadians were subjected to government enforced curfews and interrogations, in addition to job and property losses. The internment of Japanese Canadians was deemed necessary by the Canadian Federal Government based on speculation of sabotage and espionage, although there was never any proof given by the RCMP or the Department of Defence. Many interned children were raised in these camps, including David Suzuki, Joy Kogawa, and Roy Miki. The Canadian government promised the Japanese Canadians that their property and finances would be returned upon release; however, these assets were sold at auctions.
Despite widespread fear within the populace during World War II, historical evidence shows that Canadian military authorities and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police put little credence in the notion of a Japanese invasion. Following the war, and the defeat of Japan, internees were given the choice of deportation or transfer to other locations within Canada. Public protests eventually caused the repeal of the legislation and a Royal Commission was appointed in 1947 to examine the confiscation of property. In 1988, the Canadian government gave a formal apology and announced the details of compensation to the affected citizens.
- 1 Pre-war conditions
- 2 History
- 3 Internment camps
- 4 Restriction of property rights
- 5 Japanese Canadians serving in the war
- 6 Mackenzie King's attitudes
- 7 Resettlement and repatriation
- 8 Post-war
- 9 Redress
- 10 Camp locations
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Prior to World War II, there were approximately 29,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry in British Columbia, of whom 80% were Canadian nationals. At the time, they were denied the right to vote and barred by law from various professions. Their eligibility for social assistance and permits for forestry and fishing were restricted.
The Anti-Asiatic League, formed in Canada in 1907, was the source of much of the animosity toward Japanese Canadians. This league used their influence to limit the number of passports given to male Japanese immigrant, as Japanese immigrants were seen as competitors for posts within the sectors of agriculture and fishing.
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Racism towards the Japanese Canadians prior to the war “had defined their communities since the first immigrants arrived in the 1870’s”.
When the Pacific war began, discrimination against Japanese Canadians increased due to the aggression of the Japanese. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, as legalized under the War Measures Act, Japanese Canadians were categorized as enemy aliens. On January 14, 1942, the government passed an order calling for the removal of male Japanese nationals 18 to 45 years of age from a designated protected area of one hundred miles inland from the British Columbia coast. Those displaced were removed to road camps in the Jasper area of Alberta. Three weeks later another order expanded that authority to allow the removal of "all persons of Japanese origin"  In all, some 27,000 people were detained without charge or trial, and their property confiscated. Others were deported to Japan.
British Columbia had high Japanese immigrant population. In August 1941, the Navy requested that the government give them the authority to confiscate all fishing boats in the event of war. Initially reluctant, Ottawa gave orders to seize boats 'owned and operated by Japanese nationals' in October of that year. However, not all Canadians believed that the Japanese Canadians posed a threat to national security, including select senior officials of the RCMP, Royal Canadian Navy, Department of Labour and Fisheries, among other government agencies.
The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor spurred prominent British Columbians, including members of municipal government, local newspapers, and businesses to call for the internment of the ethnic Japanese living in Canada under the Defence of Canada Regulations. In British Columbia, there were fears that some Japanese who worked in the fishing industry were charting the coastline for the Japanese navy, acting as spies upon Canada's military. British Columbia borders the Pacific Ocean, and was therefore believed to be easily susceptible to enemy attacks from Japan. 22,000 Japanese Canadians (14,000 of whom were born in Canada) were interned in the 1940s for political expediency. Prime Minister Mackenzie King decided to intern Japanese Canadian citizens based on speculative evidence, because both the RCMP and defence department lacked proof of any sabotage or espionage.
On February 24, 1942, an order-in-council passed under the Defence of Canada Regulations of the War Measures Act gave the federal government the power to intern all "persons of Japanese racial origin." A "protected" 100-mile (160 km) wide strip up the Pacific coast was created, and men of Japanese origin between the ages of 14 and 45 were removed and taken to road camps in the British Columbia interior or sugar beet projects on the Prairies, such as Taber, Alberta. Despite the 100-mile quarantine, a few Japanese Canadian men remained in McGillivray Falls, which was just outside the quarantine zone; however, they were employed at a logging operation at Devine (near D'Arcy in the Gates Valley), which was in fact inside the quarantine zone but without road access to the Coast. Japanese Canadians interned in Lillooet Country found employment within farms, stores, and the railway. Tashme, on Highway 3 just east of Hope, was notorious for the camp's harsh conditions and existed just outside the protected area. Other internment camps, including Slocan, were in the Kootenay Country in southeastern British Columbia. Leadership positions within the camps were only offered to the Nisei, or Canadian-born citizens of Japanese origin, however excluding the Issei, the original immigrants from Japan.
The Liberal government also deported able-bodied Japanese Canadian labourers to camps near fields and orchards, such as the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The Japanese Canadian labourers were used as a solution to a shortage of farm workers. This obliterated any Japanese competition in the fishing sector. During the 1940s, the Canadian government created policies to direct Chinese, Japanese, and First Nations into farming, and other sectors of the economy that “other groups were abandoning for more lucrative employment elsewhere”.
Many Canadian citizens were unaware of the living conditions within the internment camps. The Japanese Canadians who resided within the camp at Hastings Park were placed in stables and barnyards, where they lived without privacy in an unsanitary environment. Kimiko, a former internee, attested to the “intense cold during the winter” and her only source of heat was from a “pot-bellied stove” within the stable. General conditions were poor enough that the Red Cross transferred fundamental food shipments from civilians affected by the war to the internees.
In early March, all ethnic Japanese people were ordered out of the protected area, and a daytime-only curfew was imposed on them. Various camps in the Lillooet area and in Christina Lake were formally "self-supporting projects" (also called "relocation centres") which housed selected middle- and upper-class families and others not deemed as much threat to public safety.
Restriction of property rights
Those living in "relocation camps" were not legally interned – they could leave, so long as they had permission – however, they were not legally allowed to work or attend school outside the camps. Since the majority of Japanese Canadians had little property aside from their (confiscated) houses, these restrictions left most with no opportunity to survive outside the camps.
Prime Minister King issued a ruling that all property would be removed from Japanese Canadian inhabitants. They were made to believe that their property would be held in trust until they had resettled elsewhere in Canada. In 1943, the Canadian "Custodian of Aliens" liquidated all possessions belonging to the 'enemy aliens'. The Custodian of Aliens held auctions for these items, ranging from farm land, homes and clothing. Japanese Canadians lost their fishing boats, bank deposits, stocks and bonds; basically all items that provided them with financial security. Japanese Canadians protested that their property was sold at prices way under the fair market value at the time. Prime Minister King responded to the objections by stating that the “Government is of the opinion that the sales were made at a fair price.”
As one contemporary[who?] points out, there was economic benefits to be made with the internment of the Japanese. More precisely, white fishermen directly benefited due to the impounding of all Japanese owned fishing boats. Fishing for salmon was a hotly contested issue between the white population and Japanese population. In 1919, the Japanese had received four thousand and six hundred of the salmon-gill net licences, representing roughly half of all of the licences the government had to distribute. In a very public move on behalf of the Department of Fisheries in British Columbia, it was recommended that in the future the Japanese never again receive more fishing licences than they had in 1919 and also that every year thereafter that number be reduced. These were measurements taken on behalf of the provincial government to oust the Japanese from salmon fishing. The federal government also got involved. In 1926 The House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Fisheries put forward suggestions that the number of fishing licences issued to the Japanese be systemically reduced by ten percent a year, until they were entirely removed from the industry by 1937. The fact that any Japanese people were still fishing in British Columbia at the outset of World War II is amazing due to the pressure they faced from the province, country, and other fishermen. Yet the reason the government gave for impounding the few remaining and operating Japanese fishing boats was that the government feared these boats would be used by Japan to mount a horrific coastal attack on British Columbia.
Many boats belonging to Japanese Canadians were damaged, and over one hundred sank. A few properties owned by Japanese Canadians in Richmond and Vancouver were vandalized, including the Steveston Buddhist Temple.
Confinement in the internment camps transformed the citizenship of many Japanese Canadians into an empty status and revoked their right to work in any occupation they chose.
Japanese Canadians serving in the war
Some of the interned citizens had been combat veterans of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including several men who had been decorated for bravery during the fighting on the Western Front in the First World War. Small numbers of military age Japanese-Canadians were permitted to serve in the Canadian Army in the Second World War, as interpreters and in signal/intelligence units. Canadian Nisei were already serving in the Canadian army in 1942 against the Axis. They served in the Far East attached to British units as interpreters and translators in January 1945. About 200 Canadian Niseijoined during World War II.
Canadians of “Oriental racial origin” were not called upon to perform compulsory military service. Japanese Canadian men such as Harold Hirose, however, chose to serve the Canadian army during the war, to prove their allegiance to Canada. However, various Japanese Canadian men would be discharged from the war only to discover that they were unable to return to the coast of British Columbia or have their rights of Canadian citizenship reinstated.
Mackenzie King's attitudes
Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King wrote daily in his diary throughout his life. These diary entries give us a sense for the thoughts and feelings King held during the war. "Though he undoubtedly considered himself a man of humanitarian outlook, he was a product of his times and shared the values of his fellow Canadians. He was – beyond doubt – an anti-Semite, and shouldered, more than any of his Cabinet colleagues, the responsibility of keeping Jewish refugees out of the country on the eve of and during the war."
Prior to the dropping of the bomb, Prime Minister King was not considered a racist. He seemed concerned for humanity and was against the use of the atomic bomb and even its creation. When King found out about the estimated date of the bomb's being dropped he wrote in his diary: "It makes one very sad at heart to think of the loss of life that it [the bomb] will occasion among innocent people as well as those that are guilty". Here, however, historians point to a specific diary entry when referring to King's racism toward the Japanese. On August 6, 1945, King wrote in his diary:
- "It is fortunate that the use of the bomb should have been upon the Japanese rather than upon the white races of Europe".
Resettlement and repatriation
|“||"It is the government’s plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.'"||”|
In April 1945, the end of the war was plausible and an official movement to remove Japanese Canadians from British Columbia commenced. Japanese Canadians were given the choice to move east of the Rockies or be repatriated to Japan. Many chose to move east to the city of Toronto where they could take part in agricultural work. By 1947, most Japanese Canadians have moved from British Columbia to the Toronto area. Interned Japanese Canadians such as Mr. Nabeta, who was a school teacher back in British Columbia, would become a farm hand in Toronto. Several Japanese Canadians who resettled in the east, wrote letters back to those still in British Columbia about the harsh labour conditions in the fields of Ontario and the prejudiced attitudes they would encounter. White-collar jobs were not open to them and most Japanese Canadians were reduced to “wage-earners”.
Repatriation began in May 1946 and 3,964 Japanese Canadians were deported "back" to Japan. The government was willing to offer free passage to those who were willing to be deported to Japan. Thousands of Japanese Canadians (born in Canada) were being sent to a country they had never known and where they would still feel quite alienated. Family members would be divided. They were being deported to a country that had been destroyed by bombs and was now hunger-stricken due to the war.
Following public protest, the order-in-council that authorized the forced deportation was challenged on the basis that the forced deportation of the Japanese was a crime against humanity and that a citizen could not be deported from his or her own country. The federal Cabinet referred the constitutionality of the order-in-council to the Supreme Court of Canada for its opinion. In a five to two decision, the Court held that the law was valid. Three of the five found that the order was entirely valid. The other two found that the provision including both women and children as threats to national security was invalid. The matter was then appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain, at that time the court of last resort for Canada. The Judicial Committee upheld the decision of the Supreme Court. In 1947, due to various protests among politicians and academics, the Federal Cabinet revoked the legislation to repatriate the remaining Japanese Canadians to Japan. It was only in April 1949 that the all restrictions were lifted from Japanese Canadians.
The Canadian government also launched a Royal Commission (led by Justice Henry Bird) in 1947 to examine the issue of compensation for confiscated property. By 1950, the Bird Commission awarded $1.3 million in claims to 1,434 Japanese Canadians; however, it accepted only claims based on loss of property, refusing to compensate for wrongdoing in terms of civil rights, damages due to loss of earnings, disruption of education or other issues.
In the post-war years, Japanese Canadians had organized the Japanese Canadian Committee for Democracy, which later became the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC). “In 1977 during the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant to Canada, discussions of redress began to have effect. In meetings in basements and coffee houses, Japanese Canadians began to be angry again, and the sense of shame was gradually replaced by one of indignation” This sparked the Japanese Canadians to want to fight for rights and to fight for compensation for what they were put through during the war.
|“||"Born in Canada, brought up on big-band jazz, Fred Astaire and the novels of Henry Rider Haggard, I had perceived myself to be as Canadian as the beaver. I hated rice. I had committed no crime. I was never charged, tried or convicted of anything. Yet I was fingerprinted and interned."||”|
To help their case, the NAJC hired Price Waterhouse to examine records to estimate the economic losses to Japanese Canadians resulting from property confiscations and loss of wages due to internment. Statisticians consulted the detailed records of Custodian of Aliens, and in their 1986, valued the total loss to Japanese Canadians totalled $443 million (in 1986 dollars).
On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney gave a formal apology and the Canadian government announced a compensation package, one month after President Ronald Reagan made similar gestures in the United States. The package for interned Japanese Canadians included $21,000 to each surviving internee, and the re-instatement of Canadian citizenship to those who were deported to Japan. The agreement also awarded $12 million to the NAJC to promote human rights and support the community, and $24 million for the establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to push for the elimination of racism. Nothing was given for those that had been interned and died before compensation was given out.
The Japanese needed to come together and fight as one to show what power they together could have. A redress settlement was officially created on September 22, 1988. The Canadian government and the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) came to an agreement about how they will deal with the problems from the harsh internment camps during World War Two. Not only did the redress help the Japanese Canadians but it also helped to reform the Canadian society. “The first step to recognition of Japanese-Canadian redress as an issue for all Canadians was recognition that it was an issue for all Japanese Canadians, not in the interests of retribution for their `race', nor only in the interests of justice, but in recognition of a need to assert principles of human rights so that racism and other forms of discrimination might be challenged.”
- Camps and relocation centres in the Kootenay region of British Columbia
- Camps and relocation centres elsewhere in British Columbia
- Camps and relocation centres elsewhere in Canada
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (November 2012)|
- Pamela Sugiman. Memories of Internment: Narrating Japanese Canadian Women's Life Stories. The Canadian Journal of Sociology. no.3 (2004): 359-388. www.jstor.org/stable/3654672
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage and the Japanese Canadian Experience (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1992), 12.
- “Jap Expropriation Hearing May Last 3 Years, Is Estimate,” Globe and Mail (Toronto: January 12, 1948)
- Summary of Memorandum, Maj. Gen. Maurice Pope, Vice Chief of General Staff (VCGS) to Chief of General Staff (Permanent), 13 January 1942, extracted from HQS 7368, vol. I, Defence Records, 322.009(D358), DND. in The Politics of Racism by Ann Gomer Sunahara
- James, Kevin. (2008) Seeking specificity in the universal: A memorial for the Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War. Dalhousie University, 20-21.
- Kobayashi, Audrey. “The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans during the 1940’s: Security of Whom?”. Canadian Issues. Fall 2005: 28-30
- Fujiwara, Aya. “Japanese-Canadian Internally Displaced Persons:Labour Relations and Ethno-Religious Identity in Southern Alberta, 1942-1953. Page 65
- Sugiman, Pamela. “Life is Sweet: Vulnerability and Composure in the Wartime Narratives of Japanese Canadians”. Journals of Canadian Studies. Winter 2009: 186-218, 262.
- Kobayashi, Audrey. “The Japanese-Canadian redress settlement and its implications for ‘race relations’” Canadian Ethnic Stuies. Vol. 24, Issue 1.
- Paolini, David. “Japanese Canadian Internment and Racism During World War II” The Canadian Studies Undergraduate. 23 March 2010.
- Wild Daisies in the Sand: Life in a Canadian Internment Camp, Tsuneharu Gonnami, Pacific Affairs, Winter 2003/2004.
- My Sixty Years in Canada, Dr. Masajiro Miyazaki, self-publ.
- The Dewdney Trail, 1987, Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd.
- “Propose Japs Work in Orchards of B.C,” Globe and Mail (Toronto: January 16, 1942)
- Carmela Patrias, “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada, 1939-1945,” Labour no. 59 (April 1, 2007), 32.
- Kevin James, Seeking specificity in the universal, 22.
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 73-74.
- Japanese Canadian Internment, University of Washington Libraries
- Explanation of different categories of internment, Nat'l Assn. of Japanese Canadians website
- Map of Internment Centres in BC, Nat'l Assn. of Japanese Canadians website
- Establishing Recognition of Past Injustices: Uses of Archival Records in Documenting the Experience of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War. Roberts-Moore, Judith. Archivaria: The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists, 53 (2002).
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 73
- Forrest E. LaViolette, “Japanese Evacuation in Canada,” Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 11, No. 15 (Institute of Pacific Relations, 1942),165.
- “Retreat Under Pressure,” Globe and Mail (Toronto: January 27, 1947)
- Merciful Injustice, Facebook page of Merciful Injustice documentary
- Vancouver Sun series Merciful Injustice
- “Will Register B.C Japanese to Eliminate Illegal Entrants,” Globe and Mail (Toronto: January 9, 1941)
- "National Association of Japanese Canadians". Najc.ca. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 77.
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 78.
- Dreisziger, N F. "7 December 1941: A turning point in Canadian wartime policy toward enemy ethnic groups?" Journal of Canadian Studies. Spring 1997: 93-11
- Johnson, Gregory A. "An Apocalyptic Moment: Mackenzie King and the Bomb". Pg 103
- King Diary, 6 August 1945.
- Japanese Internment – CBC
- Uprooted Citizens Living New Lives, Seem Contented in Toronto Area,” Globe and Mail (Toronto: September 20, 1947)
- Carmela Patrias, “Race, Employment Discrimination, and State Complicity in Wartime Canada,” 36.
- Kevin James, Seeking specificity in the universal, 23.
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 83.
- Maryka Omatsu, Bittersweet Passage, 82
- Kevin James, Seeking specificity in the universal, 24.
- Kobayashi, Audrey. “The Japanese-Canadian redress settlement and its implications for ‘race relations’” Canadian Ethnic Studies. Vol. 24, Issue 1.
- Toronto Star, Sept. 24, 1988
- Apology and compensation, CBC Archives
- Adachi, Ken. The Enemy that Never Was: A History of the Japanese Canadians (1976)
- Bangarth, Stephanie. Voices Raised in Protest: Defending North American Citizens of Japanese Ancestry, 1942-49 (UBC Press, 2008)
- Caccia, Ivana. Managing the Canadian Mosaic in Wartime: Shaping Citizenship Policy, 1939-1945 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2010)
- Daniels, Roger. "The Decisions to Relocate the North American Japanese: Another Look," Pacific Historical Review, Feb 1982, Vol. 51 Issue 1, pp 71–77 argues the U.S. and Canada coordinated their policies
- Day, Iyko. "Alien Intimacies: The Coloniality of Japanese Internment in Australia, Canada, and the U.S." Amerasia Journal, 2010, Vol. 36 Issue 2, pp 107–124
- Dowe, David. "The Protestant Churches and the Resettlement of Japanese Canadians in Urban Ontario, 1942-1955," Canadian Ethnic Studies, 2007, Vol. 39 Issue 1/2, pp 51–77
- Roy, Patricia E. The Triumph of Citizenship: The Japanese and Chinese in Canada 1941-1967 (2007)
- Sugiman, Pamela. "'Life is Sweet': Vulnerability and Composure in the Wartime Narratives of Japanese Canadians," Journal of Canadian Studies, Winter 2009, Vol. 43 Issue 1, pp 186–218
- Sugiman, Pamela. "Memories of Internment: Narrating Japanese Canadian Women's Life Stories," Canadian Journal of Sociology, Summer 2004, Vol. 29 Issue 3, pp 359–388
- Sunahara, Ann Gomer. The Politics of Racism (James Lorimer and Company, 1981)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Internment of Japanese-Canadians.|
- Explanation of different categories of internment, Nat'l Assn. of Japanese Canadians website
- Map of Internment Centres in BC, Nat'l Assn. of Japanese Canadians website
- The New Canadian, a newspaper published by interned Japanese Canadians
- Seized Japanese fishboats near Robson Island, Fraser River (New Westminster in background)
- CBC Archives – Relocation to Redress: The Internment of the Japanese Canadians
- Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians v. Attorney-General for Canada,  A.C. 87 – Privy Council decision, 2 Dec. 1946
- "Kimiko Murakami: A Picture of Strength" by John Endo Greenaway
- "The Politics of Racism" by Ann Gomer Sunahara 1981 book in PDF and HTML formats.
- Minoru: Memory of Exile an animated NFB documentary
- Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story, an NFB documentary
- Enemy Alien, an NFB documentary
- Walking Through Pictures, a documentary by Chris Hope