Canadian Government's Decision to Evacuate the Japanese-Canadian Population Living in British Columbia in 1942

Topics: Attack on Pearl Harbor, Intelligence, Canada Pages: 4 (1378 words) Published: November 21, 2009
Long-standing racial attitudes of the local population, public pressure and the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 required the Canadian government to make the reluctant decision to evacuate Japanese Canadians from the coastal regions of British Columbia and intern them. The subject matter examined in both articles range from the pre-war racism, attitudes of the Japanese Canadians, the work of intelligence services, and the government’s responses leading up to the evacuation. The articles share the common view that Japanese Canadians were victims of racism and mistreatment, but deviate in their analysis of the issues leading up to the decision. More than any other group, Japanese Canadians bore the brunt of Canadian animosity . In Ward’s article, he describes an environment of pre-war racism that existed well before the evacuation. The article presents an undeniable analysis of the racial discrimination Japanese Canadians were subjected to since the 1850s, and as Ward describes, “west-coast society had been divided by a deep racial cleavage, and over the years, only limited integration had occurred in patterns of work, residential accommodation and social contact.” As examples to support his claim, he cites that “periodically, federal, provincial and municipal governments had approved legislation and covenants which discriminated against Orientals.” Ward proceeds to describe that the driving force behind the renewed social outburst was based on social and economic factors, such as racial tensions, a sense of anxiety due to the war, and a desire to acquire Japanese property at bargain prices. Due too a lack of supporting evidence, Ward dismisses the possibility of subversive actions from the Japanese Canadian community. Granatstein and Johnson argue that the pre-war pro-Japanese attitude of Japanese Canadians and racial tensions led them to their fate. Unlike Ward, they believed that Japanese Canadians were supportive of Japan’s...

Bibliography: Francis, R. Douglas, Richard Jones and Donald B. Smith, Destinies: Canadian History since Confederation. 6th ed. Toronto: Nelson Education, 2008.
J.L. Granatstein and Gregory A. Johnson, “The Evacuation of the Japanese Canadians, 1942: A Realist Critique of the Received Version, in Norman Hilmer et. al., (eds.) On Guard For Thee: War, Ethnicity, and the Canadian State, 1939-1945 (Ottawa: Canadian Committee for the History of the Second World War, 1988), 101-129.
Morton, Desmond. A Military History of Canada. 5th ed. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2007.
Peter W. Ward, “British Columbia and the Japanese Evacuation”. The Canadian Historical R view 57, 3 (September 1976), 298-309.
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