Japanese Internment Wwii Essay

1 January 2017

As they were forced out of their own homes, uprooted from the land that they had contributed so dearly into making their own, the Japanese found themselves as victims of their own state—Red-flagged for espionage and sabotage in the North American states of Canada and the United States of America (US). These neighboring countries handled the same situation rather differently, and despite the many similarities between Japanese internment in the US and Canada during the World War II (WWII) era, there were many differences as well.

The Japanese, in both cases, were discriminated against (prior to WWII), suffered property and financial losses, labored in various occupations, and were awarded reparations. Distinctions can be seen between internment of the Japanese in the US and Canada, in dealing with Japanese property and the cost to stay at these camps, the general attitude towards the Japanese, and the outcome of the Japanese in these respective countries.

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These internment camps for Japanese Americans and Canadians show racism and discrimination, as most, if not all, of these Japanese were loyal to their country. Initially, there was already discrimination and racism occurring in both Canada and the US preceding the outbreak of war, compelling these nations to react with the execution of relocation and internment of Japanese citizens and aliens. In Canada, the war measures act of 1914 required enemy aliens to register for IDs, of which they must constantly possess.

This act also revoked general freedoms for those of Japanese lineage, including their right to bear arms, to read or write in languages other than French and English, to freely leave the country, and to join various movements. While many Asians were migrating to the Western US at the turn of the twentieth century, they faced bigotry in the work environment, forcing many of them to found their own businesses. It didn’t stop there though.

The Oriental Exclusion Proclamation of 1907 placed restrictions on Japanese migration and in 1924, citizenship was denied to those that had entered and further immigration was prohibited. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) signed Executive Order 9066 (February 19th, 1942), following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7th, 1941), both the US and Canada began to react similarly—by relocating “enemy aliens” to various internment camps.

With the displacement of the Japanese came issues regarding the property that they left behind. Many had no choice but to leave behind homes, businesses, ersonal belongings, and other assets. In 1943, the Canadian “Custodian of Aliens” seized and auctioned off Japanese property quickly and cheaply , while in the US a majority of property loss was due to evacuation on such short notice and failure to find trusted people to oversee Japanese property (ww2pacific. com), forcing them to either sell it for a fraction of its true value or abandon it and hope it was still there upon their return—it often wasn’t. In these camps, in both Canada and the US, conditions were unfavorable, but not nearly as bad as conditions in Europe.

The Japanese labored, farming sugar beets in Canada, and in the US camps they would often farm and perform industrial jobs, while children went to school. In relation to Japanese internment, both the US and the Canadian government offered reparations for those who were affected by the displacement. Upon release, the US gave each of the internees $25 and a train ticket back home. In 1968, the US began redress for property loss, and in 1981 congress awarded $20,000 to the surviving 60,000 ex-internees.

In Canada redress of $21,000 was given to the surviving internees. This was a small step in the right direction for these governments who recognized their wrongdoings at a later point in time. In contrast, about 120,000 Japanese were relocated in the US, 66% of them being US citizens (Nisei) and 33% being Japanese-born non-citizens (Issei), compared to some 22,000 people of Japanese descent in Canada. Varying attitudes of the two nations caused different outcomes for the Japanese as they experienced varying treatments.

In December of 1944 the Supreme Court ruled that this internment was unjust, and on January 2nd, 1945, Executive Order 9066 was repealed, allowing the internees to return to their lives if they wished, while in Canada, following the war, it was still evident that the Canadians did not want these Japanese in British Columbia at all. Ian Mackenzie portrays this attitude as he says, “It is the government’s plan to get these people out of B. C. as fast as possible… Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas. ” The attitude was unwelcoming towards the Japanese in Canada to say the least.

They sought to deport them back to Japan and relocate them to the other side of the Rocky Mountains. This reinforces the excessive hostility that the Japanese faced at the hands of the Canadians. The Canadian government was unconcerned with the effects of its actions on the Japanese, as they charged the Japanese for their stays at these camps. They received these funds by selling the Japanese possessions, a disgrace that the Japanese did not face in the US. The Canadians were so anti-Japanese that they wouldn’t even let them serve in the military to show their loyalty to the state (u-s-history. om).

In America however, those who proved their loyalty to the state could actually leave the camps if there was no doubt, and they could enlist. The internment of the Japanese was an embarrassment to both Canada and the US, to say the least. This unethical plan, to this day, has an unknown result, as nobody knows what may have occurred had the internment never happened. Nevertheless, these countries both relocated the Japanese as a result of discrimination, causing loss of property, labor, and ultimately, redress.

Canada was much more harsh than the US in their attitudes and actions, as they actually charged for imprisonment. Either way, the internment was devastating for most Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians as they were forced to seemingly start their lives over afterwards.

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