Essay on Japanese Internment in Canada

1540 Words 7 Pages
The core of the Japanese experience in Canada lies in the shameful and almost undemocratic suspension of human rights that the Canadian government committed during World War II. As a result, thousands of Japanese were uprooted to be imprisoned in internment camps miles away from their homes. While only a small percentage of the Japanese living in Canada were actually nationals of Japan, those who were Canadian born were, without any concrete evidence, continuously being associated with a country that was nothing but foreign to them. Branded as “enemy aliens”, the Japanese Canadians soon came to the realization that their beloved nation harboured so much hate and anti-Asian sentiments that Canada was becoming just as foreign to them as …show more content…
The initial reaction to Pearl Harbor was to take cautious emergency actions to avert civil unrest. Soon, the Canadian government passed the War Measures Act. It gave permission to intern all undesirable Japanese, tie up every Japanese-owned fishing boat in British Columbia, close all Japanese language schools, forbid the publishing of newspapers in Japanese, and seize all Japanese property. All of which were subsequently carried out. In 1941, there were twenty-three thousand five hundred Japanese persons in Canada, residing mainly on the coast of British Columbia. Of that, six thousand seven hundred were Canadian born, seven thousand were naturalized citizens, and the rest were nationals of Japan. However, nothing could make any difference. To the typical, white British Columbian, the Japanese were all lower-class citizens. Five hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour, forty-eight Japanese planes bombed Hong Kong where two Canadian battalions were stationed, and were inflicted with heavy casualties. The “problem” of the resident Japanese in British Columbia was then quickly set into the mainstream focus. Prior to declaring war on Japan, Mackenzie King had stated that the “enemy country” had “wantonly and treacherously” attacked British territory, and that “Japan’s actions [were] a threat to the defence and freedom of Canada.” On December 30, 1941,…