...the women and children were sent to shantytowns in the wilderness. Increasing pressure from the British Colombian politicians to the Canadian government led to the seizure and sale of all properties owned by Japanese Canadians. Their homes, cars, businesses and personal property were sold for next to nothing. The lives they had built in Canada were erased. The movement of the Japanese Canadians was the largest mass exodus in Canadian history. Following the war, the federal government gave the Japanese two options: To return to war ravaged Japan or move east to the Rocky Mountains. Most chose the second option and moved to Ontario, Quebec and the Prairie provinces. The rule was lifted four years later following public protests. This part of World War Two proved to be a turning point in Canada’s attitude towards human rights policies affecting race and immigration.
World War Two had a significant impact on Canadian history as the Canadian government revoked many rights and changed the lives of Japanese-Canadians that were interred. Between 1941 and 1945, over 21,000 Japanese-Canadians (in which over two thirds were born in Canada) were limited of their rights and freedom and were forced into internment camps "for their own good". The Japanese-Canadians were considered as enemy aliens by the Canadian government the day after Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. They lost many rights along with it and their property was confiscated as well even though the Canadian government promised that they would receive their property back after the war was over. While the Japanese-Canadians were living in the internment camps, they were forced to suffer from the harsh nature and living conditions of the camps. Also, after all those these years of internment, the end result was that the Japanese-Canadians were given the freedom to move and were given a formal apology from the government in 1988. Not only did the internment of Japanese-Canadians tear families apart and scar the lives of many innocent civilians, but it also made the Canadian government open their eyes and realize how they were treating different ethnicities even though Canada was supposedly a free country.
was the driving factor that ultimately resulted in the internment of the Japanese Canadians. Racial prejudice against Orientals had been around in B.C. since the 1850s when Chinese immigrants came to Canada to help with the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A newspaper article described the Chinese as a “marvelous human machine, competent to perform the maximum of labour on the minimum of sustenance” (Adachi 42). While they were beneficial for contractors, they posed a threat to the white population (Figure 3). The cartoon suggests that the low living standards of the Chinese allowed them to endure the harshest conditions, while being satisfied with the lowest wages. In contrast, the typical European is portrayed as a civilized human being who cannot compete with the Chinese workers without sacrificing his dignity. As a result, when the Japanese started immigrating to Canada later on, the British Columbian population only saw them as another threat to their culture due to the similarities they shared with the Chinese. However, the Japanese proved to be a greater problem since they were not affected by the Head Tax imposed on the Chinese (Hickman, 33; Morton). The attack on Pearl Harbour was an excuse that finally allowed British Columbians to release the anti-Japanese sentiment that they had been suppressing for years. In addition, when the final decision to intern the Japanese Canadians was passed, the government considered them all as potential threats (Figure 4). There was no effort made to distinguish those who posed potential threats and those who did not; most of them had no connection with Japan besides for their ancestry. This can only be attributed to racism, as there are only 38 suspects out of the 22,000 internees. Similarly, selling of Japanese property was another racist act that the government claimed to be necessary for the war effort and to increase national security (Sunahara 90; “The War Years”).
The internment camps was a calamitous experience for many Japanese Americans. The Japanese American’s struggle was divided into evacuation, the camps, and life afterwards. Many will never forget the great injustice wrought upon them from the United States government.
What were the Japanese internment camps some might ask. The camps were caused by the attack of Pearl Harbor in 1942 by Japan. President Roosevelt signed a form to send all the Japanese into internment camps.(1) All the Japanese living along the coast were moved to other states like California, Idaho, Utah, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona. The camps were located away from Japan and isolated so if a spy tried to communicate, word wouldn't get out. The camps were unfair to the Japanese but the US were trying to be cautious. Many even more than 66% or 2/3 of the Japanese-Americans sent to the internment camps in April of 1942 were born in the United States and many had never been to Japan. Their only crime was that they had Japanese ancestors and they were suspected of being spies to their homeland of Japan. Japanese-American World War I veterans that served for the United States were also sent to the internment camps.(2)
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government started to become very suspicious of different races living in the country especially the Japanese. To make sure nothing happened again these internment camps were set up and they were basically “America’s concentration camps”. The Japanese Americans faced a lot of hardships at these camps. Japanese Internment Camps were extremely unfair to the majority of the Japanese Americans who have not engaged in sabotage or spying for Japan during the war. Nevertheless, it was a necessary effort to limit the activities of those who would have tried to harm the U.S. and the war effort.
In the middle of WW II, many Americans were worrying about their next meal or about the house payments; however, this wasn’t the case for Japanese Americans. Instead, they were worrying about if they were going to eat and if they were going to have a house due to internment camps. These camps were designed to protect and nurture the Japanese from the American people who were persecuting them. However, these camps did little good beyond that. Many Japanese Americans faced starvation, horrible living quality, and a large distance away from what they knew as home. These Japanese immigrants were always treated with discrimination in America; however, after Pearl Harbor they were forced to leave their homes, live in internment camps, and face prejudice for the years following.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States was filled with panic. Along the Pacific coast of the U.S., where residents feared more Japanese attacks on their cities, homes, and businesses, this feeling was especially great. During the time preceding World War II, there were approximately 112,000 persons of Japanese descent living in California, Arizona, and coastal Oregon and Washington. These immigrants traveled to American hoping to be free, acquire jobs, and for some a chance to start a new life. Some immigrants worked in mines, others helped to develop the United States Railroad, many were fishermen, farmers, and some agricultural laborers.
Japanese Internment Camps were established to keep an eye on everyone of Japanese decent. The internment camps were based on an order from the President to relocate people with Japanese Heritage. This meant relocating 110,000 Japanese people. “Two thirds of these people were born in America and were legal citizens, and of the 10 people found to be spying for the Japanese during World War II, not one was of Japanese ancestry” (Friedler 1). Thus, there was no reason for these internment camps, but people do irrational things when driven by fear. In theinternment camps, many of the Japanese became sick or even died because of lack of nourishment in the food provided at these camps. The conditions in the internment camps were awful. One of the internment camps, Manzanar, was located to the west of Desert Valley in California. “Manzanar barracks measured 120 x 20 feet and were divided into six one-room apartments, ranging in size from 320 to 480 square feet.
Japanese internment was the outcome of Executive Order 9066 in 1942. It unjustly relocated and interned Japanese Americans of all ages due to racial ancestry. This travesty lasted three years and affected over 110,000 Japanese Americans living throughout the United States. The roots of this racial prejudice can be traced back to the 1800s.