Silly Grins

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Years of Sorrow, Years of Shame: Exposure

 Part III of V

In response to Part I, Mr.S of Hanlon's Razor mentioned that environmentalist David Suzuki had been in the camps in Canada. For some reason, I hadn't realized Mr. Suzuki was Canadian even though he's apparently got a sense of humor.

Special thanks to the Lillith Gallery for this revealing photo.

This set of correspondence is from the next round of mail from Mrs. H and the response.

From Mrs. H:

I just re-read my e-mail and realize it was badly in need of proof reading! I hope it's understandable despite all the typos and not too lucid writing. 

I was really happy to read the Lillian Harper studies and her conclusions because she expresses the thoughts that have been spinning around in my head, but which I did not know how to articulate or back up with studies. My opinions are based on what I remember of my own evacuation experience, There are some important differences in the Canadian and American relocations, but the revisionists in both countries seem to think in sync! (It is doubtful that the JCs would have won redress if the Americans hadn't)

The JC expulsion from the west coast. was indeed an injustice based on racism, but our sojourn in the relocation centers was for teenagers like myself and even for our parents exceptionally pleasant and stress free, shielded as we were from the overt racism of the day, and having all our needs cared for in Shrangi-la like surroundings, We were always free to leave the camps so long as it was beyond 100 miles from the coast. And many young adults did, moving to big eastern cities like Toronto and Montreal. to start new lives. According to Statistics  Canada, Japaese Canadians are perennially near the top economically among ethnic groups . . It is almost unanimously agreed among JCs that the assimilation into the mainstream population is the "best thing" that could have happened.. 

Our parents lost property, but other Canadians lost husbands, fathers, sons, in the war. There was not a single fatality caused by the JC internment. Unlike the States, Canada did not accept Japanese Canadians in the armed forces till 1945. 

And it is not the 1988 redress that was a triumph for me, it was the fact that I turned 21, the age of maturity at the time, we had won the right to vote. That's when I became a full Canadian. 
Professor Hayakawa was born Canadian, and he was one of the Nisei who were vociferous in seeking the vote for Japanese Canadians..

Cheers from Quebec, 


Mrs. H, 

Thank you so much for your response to my posting on I**ho. 

My interest in the internment and relocation actually originally came about when I read a book about the Canadian experience. The book's title is YEARS OF SORROW, YEARS OF SHAME. One passage which caught my attention was an interview where a man stated that there were people in the camp who harassed him for not expressing patriotism for Japan (to the extent of smearing excrement on his windows!). Another interviewee in the book stated that her parents returned to Japan, but since she had grown up in Canada, she didn't feel that she could go somewhere she had never been.  She stayed and they left. 

Reading that book presented me with information I had never seen before. Being raised in California, I had been sensitized by reading very apologetic history books. Living in Japan, I have experienced my daily dose of finger pointing and name calling. Most of the time, I see it for what it is...there's a bit of ignorance and laziness but no harm intended. I have, however, been in situations where a few Japanese-Americans have so righteously denied to acknowledge racist treatment of people (including myself) here in Japan. They didn't want to hear it. I was kind of disappointed because I had been raise to be an activist in the US for such things as Equal Housing Opportunity, etc. I actually had an article published in the ********** about my work situation. I was in an extremely remote town in Japan working for the city *******. [section withheld]

It does seem odd that the most vocal people for redress tend to be people who either didn't experience the relocation/internment or people who were quite young when they were sent in. We've all got an axe to grind I guess. 

I can say, some of the most honorable people I have met throughout my life have been people of Japanese descent. There's a retired fellow in my hometown (he's over 80) who spent more than 50 hours a week volunteering time to help turn a company around that employed mentally disabled people in making *****. This man did all his work as a volunteer and has given numerous speeches and been quite active in the ******. He and his wife donated the money they received from the US government this last time to charity. 

Interesting to hear about the narrow eyes incident. A leading car maker in Japan made a commercial just this past year where all for  the European looking folks pulled their eyes back when the featured car drove by. Apparently not every gesture is universal in the same way. 

Thank you again for posting your mail to me. I don't like to stir things up but I do like taking a look at good research and learning about history. 


Your mail just came in.....I should be the one apologizing for not having proof read my post. The hour was late and I haven't been in the habit of using English as much as I normally would (excuses!). Thank you again for taking the time to write. 

The Lillian Harper reference was most likely a mistake. Around this time, I'd discovered Lillian Baker who presented ideas I hadn't previously encountered.

Naturally, I was curious.

To be continued...

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