Maru: Immigration Stories Part 2

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. Learn about life for the Nikkei communities in the Americas prior to WWII and the systematic persecution that devastated many lives during WWII.  

A Group of Japanese Immigrants Land in Victoria BC; Victoria, BC (1907)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Rise of Anti-Asian Sentiment and WWII

With the introduction of the Pacific Steamship Line, thousands of dekasegi (contract workers) were entering North and South America. The growing Japanese population across the continents gave rise to anti-Asian sentiment and would result in riots, foreboding persecution of Nikkei communities across the continents during WWII. 

Passengers Arriving in Vancouver Aboard the Kumeric from Hawaii (1907)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In 1907, the US government ended the migration of Japanese in Hawaii to mainland US. This decision triggered the transmigration of Japanese in Hawaii to the west coast of Canada. Before the year’s end the Japanese population in British Columbia increased by 40%.

Image: Rare Books and Special Collections (JCPC-36-002b), University of British Columbia Library

Damage to Japanese Store during Anti-Asiatic riots (1907)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The growing Japanese population in British Columbia gave rise to anti-Asian sentiment. On September 7, 1907 a mass meeting of the Asiatic-Exclusion League resulted in an anti-Asian riot.

The government of Canada consequently amended the Immigration Act in 1908, requiring all immigrants to Canada to travel directly from their country of origin, ending transmigration of Japanese from Hawaii. These measures did little to alleviate anti-Asian sentiment in British Columbia.

In 1928, Canada reduced Japanese immigration quotas from 400 men (plus women and families) to a total of 150 immigrants annually. Japanese immigration to Canada would not start up again until well after World War II.

Listen to Mary sharing a story of her family’s business in Vancouver facing discrimination and violence.

Newspaper Clipping from Vancouver Sun (1914-06-26) by The SunJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Looting at Soft Drink Factory owned by Masaichi Tanaka (1940-05-13/1940-05-14)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The animosity faced by Japanese immigrants in Canada was not unique as similar treatment was faced by the immigrant community across the Americas.

In Peru, tensions boiled over on May 13, 1940 when anti-Japanese riots broke out and violence was unleashed on the immigrant community.

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

Looting at Garment Factory Owned by Japanese Issei (1940-05-13)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

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

Japanese Americans in Hawaii, Harper's Magazine (1943) by Harper's MagazineJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

On the morning of December 7, 1941, residents of Honolulu were awakened by the sound of explosions. After the declaration of martial law in Hawaii, leaders of the Japanese Hawaiian community were immediately arrested.

Honouliuli Internment Camp Overview (1943 - 1944) by R. H. LodgeJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Over two thousand Japanese Hawaiians were removed to US Army internment camps in Hawaii before being forcibly relocated to US mainland concentration camps.

Image: Japanese American Relocation & Internment: The Hawaii Experience Archival Collection, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii

Mr. and Mrs. Moji in back of millitary truck (1942-03-30) by Staff Photographer Seattle Post-IntelligencerJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

President Franklin D. Roosevelt would sign Executive Order 9066 authorizing the largest removal and incarceration of US residents in American history. Every person of Japanese heritage, two-thirds of whom were American-born citizens, were forced into temporary detention centres and then to remote incarceration camps. The terrible conditions in these camps were well documented with photographs showing both adults and children imprisoned behind barbed wire.

Image: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection (PI-28046), Museum of History & Industry

Mr. and Mrs. Moji were in back of military truck when their dog King jumped into the truck with the Mojis during the removal of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Then, Mrs. Moji returned King to their neighbour who agreed to look after their dog and berry farm before returning to the truck and being removed to incarceration camps.

Image: Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection (PI-28046), Museum of History & Industry

Press Conference on the Korematsu Incarceration Case (1983) by Crystal K. HuieJapanese Canadian Cultural Centre

When Fred Korematsu refused to go into the temporary detention centres in the US, he was immediately arrested. Korematsu appealed his case all the way to Supreme Court, but the Court ruled against him in 1944. In 1983, Korematsu's conviction was overturned after it was proven that Japanese Americans did not commit acts of treason that justified incarceration. Korematsu’s work in activism continued well after the conclusion of redress for Japanese Americans.

Image: Courtesy of the Fred. T. Korematsu Institute

Boarded up stores in Seattle's Japantown after mass removal (1942)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

This photograph taken on a street in Seattle in 1942 shows boarded up stores after their Japanese American operators were removed.

Image: Courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection (PI-28071), Museum of History & Industry

Memo from J. Daniel Hanley (1945-09-08)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Japanese Peruvians arguably faced the worst persecution amongst the Nikkei communities in South America who faced deportation to internment camps in the US.

This memo from J. Daniel Hanley to an undisclosed recipient regarding the removal of Japanese Peruvians to the US. It discusses previous communications with the American Embassy in Lima including recommendations to the Peruvian government.

Image: Courtesy of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians

Japanese in Peru Deported to the United States of America (1942-04)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In one of its most controversial moves, Peru deported Japanese Peruvians to internment camps in the United States.

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

Japanese Canadians Disembarking from Ferry (1942-05-13)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

In Canada, Prime Minister Mackenzie King issued the Order-in-Council P.C. 1486 ordering the forced removal of over 21,000 people of Japanese ancestry from their homes on the west coast.

Temporary Men's Dormitories at Hastings Park (1942)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

This photograph of Hasting Park in Vancouver illustrates the living condition for over 8,000 Japanese Canadian who were detained as they await decision as to where they will be sent next.

Women and children standing in line in front of tents (1942)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

The hasty removal of Japanese Canadians to various internment camps meant that some had to live in temporary structures in the beginning. This photograph shows army tents in the Popoff internment camp where Japanese Canadians initially lived in while permanent structures were being built.

Tashme Internment Camp (1942)Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre

Rows of small houses in Tashme internment camp in British Columbia were built for Japanese Canadians removed from the west coast of Canada.

Credits: Story

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

This virtual exhibit is adapted from the full
exhibition in the Japanese Canadian Cultural
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:
Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education
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
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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