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Essay/Term paper: Japanese internment

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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The Japanese Internment

Throughout history, Canada has relatively been a supporter of multiculturalism. In the past Canada has had very few racial conflict, although there has been one incident which has had quite a controversial effect about human rights violations and discrimination. This thorn in Canada's side is the Japanese Internment which took place during the second world war.

The Japanese Internment took place between the years of 1941 and 1949. At the time most of the Japanese population was concentrated in British Columbia, on the West Coast of Canada. The Japanese first immigrated to Canada to work on the rail road in 1900. By 1921 the Japanese population numbered nearly 16000 people and had possessed nearly half of the fishing licenses in British Columbia. In 1941 23000 Japanese were living throughout Canada.

On December 7 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After the attack there government took all Japanese owned boats, radios, and cameras. After the public pressured the government, and they took action and the government moved all Japanese from a 100 mile wide security strip along the B.C. coast. Later the government gave a further statement that declared that all people of Japanese origin were considered aliens until the end of World War II.

In the first year of the war the 21000 Japanese who were affected by the war regulations, were sent to various provinces across Canada. The government assured the provinces that the Japanese would stay in agriculture and would be removed after the war, at the provinces request.

The remaining 12000 Japanese were taken to Interior Housing Centers in the middle of B.C. These housing centers consisted of four abandoned mining towns and two completely new communities. During the internment the Canadian Government claimed all the Japanese's land and possessions and sold them for a factor of the original cost. The government called this land claim's.

After the internment and the war, the Prime Minister at the time Makenzie King started to deport Japanese back to Japan. 4000 Japanese Canadians were deported before Makenzie King canceled the deportation order in 1947. In many peoples opinion the cancellation orders were 7 years too late.

There are many arguments which have arisen in Canada because of the Japanese Internment. Many positions have been stated as well as many different points of view. One of the major arguments is the factor of segregation and discrimination that were implied during the internment. One question asked is, was the internment just a way of separating the Japanese for no reason other than thier ethnic origin or skin color? Some people think that the British Columbia Government as well as the Federal Government were trying to separate and segregate all people of Japanese origin from the rest of Canada. One good example of this segregation is when the Government restricted the number of Japanese immigrants to Canada in 1907 to 400 people yearly. A good example of the Government's discrimination towards the Japanese is when the Government sold most of the Japanese owned property and land, without the Japanese's consent.

Although Japan was one of the countries opposing the Allied powers, the Japanese were the only race that was interned. The internment was a act of discrimination, because the Italians and the Germans as well as the Austrians were pretty much left alone. At the same time as 12000 Japanese were being placed in abandoned mining towns and later deported, Austrians, Italians, and Germans were walking freely around Canada with out being asked for much more than identification.

Another strong argument raised by the Japanese Internment is why the Canadian Government Interned the Japanese Canadians. A good Question is "on what grounds, or what right did the Canadian Government have to arrest the Japanese." At the time the Government had no proof that the Japanese were spying on them, but still the they interned the Japanese until the war ended. Even after the war, Makenzie King still deported 4000 Japanese Canadians back to Japan. Throughout whole internment and deportation that was acted upon the Japanese Canadians, the Government had no proof of any war crimes, or espionage that was suspected of the Japanese Canadians. The Government only acted in fear of Canada's National security.

The internment in the end was useless in the fact that, by interning the Japanese didn't help Canada at all. Some people believed that the internment was a necessary action, because Canada's national security was being threatened by the Japanese who were dwelling near the Pacific Ocean. Other people support this opinion but think that the Germans, Austrians, and Italians, should of been treated the same way. A different opinion is that the internment shouldn't of happened at all, and that the Japanese were discriminated against throughout the war.

Many people belived that even befor the war, racial prejudice towards the Japanese was showed by the government. For example in 1907 the Government had restricted the number of Japanese immigrants to a mere 400 a year. Many people believe that the Japanese skin color was a factor in the internment. During the war German, Italian, and Austrian Canadians were left alone, while the Japanese were sent to prison Camps, and abandoned mining towns to live in, and being deported back to Japan for no reason, other that their home land was waging war against the Allied powers. Japan was one of the Axis powers, but it was not the only one. Three other countries were aiding them in the war and none of their Canadian citizens were bothered, interned, or deported. Many people believe that the Canadian Government treated the Japanese badly because of their skin color and ethnic origin.

In conclusion a majority of people feel that the Government acted upon the Japanese Canadians unfairly using segregation, discrimination and prejudice, to separate them from the rest of Canada. Many people have observed that even before the war the Government treated the Japanese unfairly, by not granting them citizenship even tough they were born there. Many other unfair disadvantages were put upon the Japanese before and during World War II.

This is only one side of the story and only one of the many positions that should be looked at. Many other sides, perspectives, and aspects should also be looked at before making judgment on what happened, how it happened and why the Japanese Internment happened. The Canadian Government might have acted fairly upon the Japanese considering the situation, but as said before there are many other sides, perspectives and aspects to the Japanese Internment.

This is a situation that has been discussed in the past and will continue to be talked about in the future. The Japanese Internment is a big part of Canada's past, and history. The mistakes of World War II will help Canada grow and learn how to act in similar situations in the future. In a way the Internment has helped Canada a great deal, giving Canada experience, and knowledge for preparation for future conflicts.


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