Beginning on December 7th 1941 and lasting until 1949, Japanese Canadians were sent to internment camps by our government. The only crime committed by many of these people was being Japanese. Canada is know for its accepting multiculturalism, but these events show different.
Many people see the internment as a national defense measure, but more and more people are learning about the racist truth behind the decision. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the government forcibly moved all Japanese Canadians on the coast of B.C to interment camps and farms across the Country. This was an expensive process so the government impounded and sold all property of the japanese canadians (from fishing boats to houses to silverware) to pay for their own internmentThe Japanese Canadians who didn’t live on the coast of B.
C we’re giving enforced curfews, had all Japanese news papers shut down, and had to experience racism because the internment gave them a bad name. But on april 1st 1949 the Japanese Canadians were granted freedom of movement and could return to the coast if they so pleased. On september 22nd 1988 the Canadian government issued an official apology for there wrong doings, they also issued a compensation package for the affected. Problems between Canadians and Japanese Canadians started long before there internment. Human geographer audrey Kobayashi says “prior to WW2, racism defined japanese communities”.
Starting way back in 1858 when many asian immigrants immigrated to Canada during the Fraser Canyon gold rush. The people of British Columbia began to be fearful of the assumed lower standard of living and their cultural differences. They were also feared because they were supposedly stealing the white the white Canadians jobs. The fear of lower standards of living developed because Japanese immigrants had trouble finding steady work with equal Wages. The japanese got into all industries of work they legally could. By 1919 50% of all the fishing licences distributed were distributed to people of Japanese heritage. This started the accusation that Japanese people did not want to become Canadian, instead they used citizenship to get fishing licenses.
The accusations got worse as the Japanese population increased. In 1907 the U.S.A. began prohibiting Japanese from entering there coasts, causing a massive increase in immigrants to B.
C. During WW1 the white canadians opinions of Japanese improved. This is because Japan was now a ally of the United Kingdom and some Japanese enlisted in the Military. In Canada the depleted number of white men caused by the war and conscription forced businesses to hire the groups that were not fighting (women, Japanese, and the refugees of ww1).
Most owners did not want to hire these people but there were lots of spots to fill. But when the soldiers returned to find their jobs filled by other groups, (including the Japanese Canadians) they were furious. Since the japanese filled businesses up and started their own they were again perceived as a threat to white workers again, but now more than ever. Leading up to WW2 Japan withdrew from the League of nations (now called United Nations) and allied with germany with the Anti- Comintern Pact. This only made the racism worse because many Canadians believe that the Japanese would always be loyal to Japan (even though at this time most Japanese people in Canada were born in Canada). When the Pacific War started, the views on japanese Canadians were bad again, and the attack on Pearl Harbour did not help them either.
Instead it classified them as enemy aliens under the war measures act which took away their rights. On december 8th 1941, 1,200 japanese canadian owned Fishing boats were impounded as a “defence mesure”. Then on february 25th 1942 the government ordered for all people of japanese descent (27,000) to be removed from the coast of B.C. william lyon mackenzie king was prime minister at the time, most people thought of him as a humanitarian until after his diaries were made public.
A entry on august 6th 1945 said ” it is fortunate that the bomb should have been upon the japanese rather than the white races of europe”. He is also the prime minister who interned the japanese canadians on speculative evidence since there was no proof that the japanese canadians would sabotage Canada Even though Canada is known as a multicultural place our history is full of things that beg to differ. things alike the interment of the japanese Canadians. Which was more than just a defence measure, there was racist intention behind it.