JAPANESE INTERNMENT INJUSTICE IN OUR TIME
JAPANESE IMMIGRATION 1877-1940 • The first Japanese immigrant set foot in British Columbia in 1877. His name was Manzo Nagano. • From 1890 until World War I, almost 30,000 Japanese immigrants entered Canada. The great majority of them settled on the coast of British Columbia. • From the 1920’s to the 1940’s Japanese immigration to Canada dropped considerably. Between 1920 and 1940 approximately 5000 Japanese immigrated into Canada. • During the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s Canada’s Immigration Act gave the government the right to limit immigration, and deny entry to those nationalities deemed undesirable. Asians were on the list of undesirable immigrants, which explains the drop in Japanese immigrants during these years.
Why were the Japanese undesirable? • Japanese immigrants tended to pocket themselves into their own communities and did not interact with other nationality groups. They “segregated” themselves. • Due to their “segregation”, the Japanese did not assimilate into Canadian Society. They kept to their traditions and did not assume Canadian traditions and qualities. This was seen as anti-Canadian activity. • Canada wanted immigrants who would readily assimilate into Canadian Society: adapt Canadian language, culture, tradition, laws, religion, etc. The Japanese refused to assimilate fully and were thus deemed undesirable.
RACISM IN BRITISH COLUMBIA • Since the late 1850’s the West Coast had been divided by deep racial problems. There was an especially high Anti-Asian sentiment in the West. • Japanese were segregated: the white population in B.C. would not interact with the Japanese, jobs were denied to Japanese, and they were looked upon with suspicion. • The Japanese community was seen with suspicion. They thought the Asians were trying to take over B.C. This fear of Asians in B.C. was known as “Yellow Peril”. This fear prompted anti-Asian sentiments through discrimination, verbal abuse, and even mob violence.
THE “YELLOW PERIL” • The population growth in the Japanese communities was far higher than the white communities. This was seen as a threat because as the community kept growing, the more land they inhabited and the more businesses and networks they would open. • The Japanese community took over the fishing industry in British Columbia. They were better fishermen and the other communities could not compete with them. This was seen as a take-over ploy. • Japan’s conquests in Asia sparked fear that British Columbia would be next, due to the large Japanese community living on the coast. They believed that all Japanese living in B.C. had the potential to be spies and were communicating with Japan. • With the attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, fear and Anti-Asian sentiments intensified.
AFTER PEARL HARBOUR • In the weeks following Pearl Harbour some Japanese in Vancouver were victimized by scattered acts of violence and vandalism. These activities intensified as time went on. • The white population in B.C. pressured the government to get rid of the Japanese living on the coast. Rumours of Japanese spies and communication with Japan mounted, violence against the Japanese in B.C. worsened, and protest by the population grew day by day. • There was fear by the B.C. government of open rioting and violence due to the growing fears of a Japanese take-over. • The B.C. government pleaded with the Federal Government to step in and stop the racial and violent problems in the province.