TORONTO, Sept. 17, 2019 /CNW/ - On September 22nd, 1988 the Canadian government redressed historic wrongs towards Canadian citizens of Japanese descent. This year, thoughts turn to the current B.C. Redress campaign. The B.C. government has acknowledged that their 2012 apology, made without consulting the Japanese Canadian community, did not achieve closure.
The National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), the organization that won the 1988 Redress Agreement has conducted consultations across Canada. Two Toronto consultations were held at a senior's residence, home to many internment survivors. In 1942, 22,096 Japanese Canadians lived in B.C. but due to forced displacement the number of Japanese Canadians living outside B.C. swelled to 21,376 in 1951.
New research by historians and legal experts shows that federal laws enabling the mass incarceration of over 21,000 Japanese Canadians were in response to the lobbying of B.C. politicians. Adrian Dix, B.C. MLA stated, "There were no political parties in this Legislature in 1941 that have any honour in this – none."
Dr. Eric Adams, Professor of Law, University of Alberta is the legal history lead for Landscapes of Injustice – a research project focused on the internment period. Earlier this year he presented, Constitutional Wrongs: The Internment, Dispossession and Exile of Japanese Canadians to the Faculty of Law, Oxford University. On Thursday, November 7th the Toronto NAJC is sponsoring Dr. Adams lecture "How Japanese Canadians Shaped the Constitution" at U of T's Alumni Hall, 121 St. Joseph Street, Toronto at 6:30 p.m.
The extent of human rights violations of Japanese Canadians was harsher than that of Japanese Americans. In 1944 U.S. Supreme Court Justices unanimously declared that the U.S. government could not continue to imprison its citizens. Meanwhile, Japanese Canadians could not move freely, lost all property and were barred from returning to the B.C. "protected zone". The Privy Council upheld the government's right to exile to Japan, 4000 Canadian citizens, including children and those born in Canada. In 1945 Canada signed the U.N. Charter, which in 1948 became the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, all whilst violating those said values.
Many of those in eastern Canada died having never returned to their birthplace in B.C. or before hearing the words of government apology. Tomekichi Homma, who lost his case for Japanese Canadian enfranchisement in 1903, died in 1945 at the age of 80 while incarcerated. Japanese Canadians citizens did not receive the right to vote until April 1, 1949.
SOURCE Greater Toronto Chapter of the National Association of Japanese Canadians
For further information: Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, President, Greater Toronto Chapter of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), 416-317-9726, [email protected], www.torontonajc.ca