The Intergenerational Differences of the Japanese canadian issei, nisei, and sansei
In the wake of World War II, The Japanese Issei and Nisei both experienced extreme racial prejudices brought about by pre-existing anti-Asian racism and fear driven panic from the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and as a result became enemy aliens. However, pre-war intergenerational differences between the Japanese Canadian Issei and Nisei such as; traditional values, education, language, and age directly influenced the differences of the reactions that the Issei and Nisei had during the uprooting and internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II.
. The racism and prejudices against the Japanese Canadians can be traced back to when Japanese Immigrants first began to settle in Canada. This hatred was mainly triggered by the Canadians envy of the Japanese Canadians hard work, discipline, and contempt with the low pay and living standards that were pushed upon them.1 Many of the Japanese Canadian Issei spent an average of 30 years working as fisherman, small business owners, and farmers, and due to the looming racism were declared to be unable to assimilate into Canadian Society.2 As a result Japanese Canadians Formed small communities in which they lived. Ken Adachi best summarizes the effects of this pre-war racism of the Japanese Canadians in this passage from his book The Enemy That Never Was: Canadian society all at once totally rejected the Japanese, confronted them with negative sanctions, and apparently doomed them and their Canadian born children to remain, in essence, a permantley alien, non-voting population. But at the same time, few immigrant Japanese wanted any part in the larger society.3 This passage helps explain why the Canadian-born Nisei children experienced the same prejudices as their Japanese-born parents despite the fact that they were Canadian-educated and had little if any to the Japanese way of life.4
It is important to note the generation differences that existed among the Canadian Japanese Issei and Nisei prior to World War II. The Japanese Canadian Issei continued to practice traditional Japanese values, ideals and authoritarian parenting style in their adopted homeland. The Issei tried to pass these ideals down to their children, however the children’s involvement in the Canadian school district had a greater influence on the Nisei children and pushed them away from the Japanese ideals of their parents, and towards that of the Western Cultures.5 In fact, the majority of Japanese Canadian Nisei and Sansei disliked the forced Japanese teachings so much that Muriel Kitagawa explained that when the three Japanese newspapers and Japanese schools shut down following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Nisei and Sansei were overjoyed because they had more time to play6
Immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7 1942, the Canadian Government began the persecution and suspicion of all Japanese Canadians. On December 8 1942 the Royal Canadian Navy impounded 1,200 vessels owned by Japanese Nationals.7 The Issei willingly obliged to the confiscation despite the fact that their income relied on the vessels8. It is important to note that when the decision to evacuate all males of Japanese descent between the ages of 18 and 45 from the West Coast into the interior, there were only 5,000 of the 13,600 Nisei who were over twenty years of age.9 The effects of the evacuation, tore the Japanese community apart. As a result of the uprooting and incarcerations, Japanese schools and newspapers were shut down, which had a huge effect on the Japanese Canadian Issei because many had a very small knowledge of the English language so they relied on the Japanese newspapers for information on the war. After the shutdown of Japanese newspapers and the confiscation of radios and other communication devices, the Imprisoned Issei had little means of knowing what was going on, and mainly relied on circulating...
Bibliography: Oiwa, Keibo, ed. Stone Voices: Wartime Writings of Japanese Canadian Issei, 43-151. Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1994.
La Violette, Forest Emmanuel. The Canadian Japanese and World War II: A Sociological and Psychological Account, 3-57. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1948.
Sunahara, Ann Gomer, The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War, 5-116. Toronto: James Lorimer and Company, Publishers, 1981.
Ward, Peter. “Japs.” White Canada Forever: Popular Attitudes and Public Policy towards Orientals in British Columbia. 2nd ed, 6-118. Montreal: McGill-Queen 's University Press, 1978
Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 7th ed. 49-149 Boston & New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2012
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