Maru: Immigration Stories Part 3

By Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The international Japanese diaspora is part of a global network of communities more commonly known as the Nikkei community. The international Japanese diaspora is a combination of many things that create a sense of belonging. Join us as we continue to explore the stories of the Nikkei communities after WWII. 

People on a truck during 'repatriation', Slocan City, BC (1946)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Rebuilding Nikkei Communities 

After the end of martial law in Hawaii, Japanese Hawaiians were released sporadically. Other Nikkei communities across the Americas had to wait until the end of WWII to be released. The nightmare faced by Japanese Peruvians interned in the US did not end at the conclusion of WWII. Barred from returning to Peru, Japanese Peruvians stranded in the US became stateless. Image: Tsutomu Tom Kimoto Collection (2012.11.75), Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre

Couple waiting to reclaim property (1945-11-16)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Throughout the war years, a number of Japanese Americans fought against their wrongful incarceration. Mitsuye Endo fought for her right to leave the incarceration camp and in a landmark lawsuit, the US Supreme Court ruled for the release of Japanese Americans on January 1945.

Image: Courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection (number PI-28086), Museum of History & Industry

Notice RE Voluntary Repatriation to Japan (1945-02-13) by Department of Labour CanadaJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In Canada, the government in British Columbia continued the ban on Japanese Canadians living within 100 miles of the west coast, essentially preventing them from returning to their homes. Instead, upon their release they were given two options—move to Japan or central/eastern Canada.

Listen to Keo on his family's experience immediately after the war.

Japanese Canadians Saying Goodbye to those Heading to Japan, Slocan City, BC (1946-06-13)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Under immense pressure, 4,319 Japanese Canadians with little to no property reluctantly agreed to move to war-torn Japan, while over 16,000 Japanese Canadian chose to remain in Canada.

Image: Tsutomu Tom Kimoto Collection (2012.11.4), Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre

Letter from Mary to Harold Takayesu Letter from Mary to Harold Takayesu (1946-02-26) by MaryJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

"It really made me feel sad + as I read it, it brought tears to my eyes. I hope that everything will turn out for the best. If mother + father have to go back, it means Helen will have to go back and I can’t imagine Helen going to back to a country she’s never seen and a country not hers."

Leaflet by the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians (1945)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Cover Page of Newspaper A-Gazeta (1946)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

At the end of the war, the recording of Emperor Hirohito’s surrender speech was broadcast around the world in archaic Japanese, a language not easily understood by most Japanese. This led to confusion in Nikkei communities and violence between two factions in Brazil, the Kachigumi, who believed Japan had won WWII and, the Makegumi, who believed Japan had lost.

Image: Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil

A Redress Meeting (1942)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The call for redress for Japanese Americans began in the 1970s. The movement provided a platform for the nisei (second generation Nikkei) to speak of their experiences during the war. This culminated in the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, which granted compensation of US$20,000 and a formal apology to all surviving Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during the war.

Image: Courtesy of the Kinoshita Collection (ddr-densho-10-23), Densho

Japanese Canadian Redress Rally March at Parliment Hill (1988-04-14)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In 1980, the National Association of Japanese Canadians President Gordon Kodata appeared before the House of Commons Special Joint Committee urging them to amend the Canadian Constitution that failed to protect the rights of Japanese Canadians during World War II. In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom was added to the Canadian Constitution, which worked to protect the rights of all persons in Canada.

In this climate, conversations about redress amped up. It became clear that many in the community wanted to pursue justice and acknowledgement for the wrongdoings of the Canadian government during World War II.

This photograph shows the Japanese Canadian Redress Rally at Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

Image: Momiji Collection (RD-003)

Japanese Canadian Wins Apology to 'Cleanse Past' (1988-09-23) by The Toronto StarJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Close to five decades after the persecution of Japanese Canadians during WWII, the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement was signed in 1988 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney acknowledging the persecution of Japanese Canadians during the war.

Redress Acknowledgement Letter (1991) by Government of CanadaJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Redress Cheque (1990)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The Japanese Canadian redress settlement included individual redress payments of $21,000 for eligible Japanese Canadians who had been subjected to persecution, creation of a Japanese Community Fund and Canadian Race Relations Foundation, as well as clearing the names of Japanese Canadians who were convicted of violations under the War Emergency Act.

Taiko Drumming during Nikkei Matsuri (2019-09-02)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Nikkei Communities Today

After WWII, new regulations allowed immigrants to enter the US and Canada based on factors such as professional skills. By 1990, twenty-thousand post-war Japanese immigrants were living in the US. These were predominantly highly skilled young professionals who would establish families in their new home. Image: Courtesy of Manto Artworks, Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre 

Samba performance during the World Gourmet Festival (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In the 1970s, Japan’s economy improved significantly and faced a new challenge - labour shortage. This led to a reversal of immigration flow since the Meiji period. By 1998, approximately 275,000 Nikkei individuals from South America were living in Japan with 220,000 from Brazil.

Image: Oizumi Tourism Association

World Gourmet Festival (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The city of Oizumi in Japan is the home to a large population of Nikkei. Most Nikkei work in factories operating in the city. The Oizumi Tourism Association hosts several events annually in celebration of the Nikkei living in the city.

Image: Oizumi Tourism Association

Kyodai Remittance Storefront (2019) by Su Yen ChongJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Brazilian Nikkeis living in Japan send approximately US $550 million of remittance to Brazil annually.

Ceremony Unveiling the Bust of Umpei Hirano (1979)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In 1979, the residents of Colonial Hirano unveiled a bust dedicated to the founder of the colony, Umpei Hirano. As of 2020, some of the descendants of the isseis who moved there with Hirano still live in the colony.

Image: Associação Cultural Agrícola e Esportiva Hirano de Cafelândia.

Sayako Kuroda (Previously Princess Nori) Meets a Japanese Peruvian Issei (1999-05-29)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Today, the Japanese Peruvian community is thriving. The Association of Japanese Peruvian (APJ) exemplifies the success of the Japanese Peruvians and they celebrated their 120 years of Japanese immigration to Peru in 2019.

Image: Archivo del Museo de la Inmigración Japonesa al Perú “Carlos Chiyoteru Hiraoka” – APJ.

New Year's Eve Celebration (1979-12-31)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

After the war, a large number of Japanese Canadians moved to the Greater Toronto Area. As they re-established themselves, they sought to reconnect with their community. In 1964, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto was built and became a space where Japanese Canadian families could gather and celebrate their cultural heritage.

Mikoshi Carried during Nikkei Matsuri (2019-09-02)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Active Nikkei organizations can be found across North and South America. Their work within the community has helped to preserve and introduce local and international Nikkei culture and history. Their work also ensures the continued well-being of the community.

Image: Courtesy of Manto Artworks, Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre

The Japanese Cultural Association of ManitobaJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.

Image: Courtesy of The Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba.

The Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba's Mikoshi (1940/1960)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba's Mikoshi is used during festival celebrations in Winnipeg, MB.

Image: Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba

Taiko Drumming at a Festival (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Taiko drumming during festival in Victoria, BC.

Image: Courtesy of Sushi Rice Studios, Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society

Welcome Booklet of the Calgary Nikkei Cultural & Seniors Centre by Calgary Nikkei Cultural and Seniors CentreJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Welcome booklet of the Calgary Nikkei Cultural & Seniors Centre in Calgary, AB.

Image: Courtesy of the Calgary Japanese Community Association.

Japanese Pavilion (2016-09)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Japanese Pavilion (Pavilhão Japonês), Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Image: Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil.

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal in Quebec.

Image: Courtesy of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal.

Tashme Museum (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Tashme Museum in British Columbia.

Image: Courtesy of Tashme Museum.

Senior Volunteers Making Sushi at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (2019)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Volunteers making sushi for festival at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Toronto.

Credits: Story

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
Moriyama Nikkei Heritage Centre
Generously funded by Raymond and Sachi
Moriyama

This virtual exhibit is adapted from the full
exhibition in the Japanese Canadian Cultural
Centre.
Initial concept by Gary Kawaguchi and James Heron.

Curatorial Team: Su Yen Chong, Theressa Takasaki, Sandy Chan, Yoko Tsumagari, Laura Viselli, Anh Le.

Photographs contributed by:
Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Archivo del Museo de la Inmigración Japonesa al Perú “Carlos Chiyoteru Hiraoka” – APJ
University of British Columbia Library
Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
Densho
Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
Japanese American National Museum
Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba
Library of Congress
Tashme Museum
Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society
Calgary Japanese Community Association
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal
Oizumi Tourism Association

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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