Re: B.C. apologizes for Japanese internment, May 10;
Re: A long-overdue apology, May 10 column.
The apology issued to the B.C. Japanese, as reported in the PAN, was indeed long overdue and has to be highly commended, when applied to the disgusting Canadian actions of confiscating and selling off farms, homes, boats etc. belonging to the relocated Japanese.
However, no apology is warranted for relocating some 21,000 Vancouver Japanese to the B.C. Interior. That was a prudent and virtually essential action necessitated by the state of the war as seen through 1942 eyes.
In 1942, the free world was staring defeat in the face.
Britain had barely survived the Battle of Britain; the German invasion of Russia was only stopped at Stalingrad at the end of 1942; Rommel was stopped at El Alamein at the end of 1942; the Japanese was rampaging through the Pacific with victories in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and others. They had occupied U.S. soil with the capture of some of the Aleutian Islands. Darwin was heavily bombed. In 1942, the Allies suffered appalling shipping losses from U-boats and Japanese submarines off the west coast.
In 1942, it was widely believed – through 1942 eyes – that an invasion of the Canadian and U.S. west coast was imminent.
The Canadian decision-makers would have been delinquent if they had not relocated the B.C. Japanese.
It is virtually certain that there were spies within that group, although never proven and never required to be proven because of the relocation of the community.
No action taken out of prudent concern requires justification by the occurrence of the event against which it guards. For example: Toronto skyscrapers were cleared of people immediately after the 9-11 WTC attacks in New York, but a plane later slamming into the CN Tower was not necessary to justify that evacuation.
The B.C. Japanese were not re-blooded Canadians with only visual differences. Among the some 21,000 B.C. Japanese, about 6,000-7,000 had been born and raised in Japan and were still Japanese subjects. About another 7,000 had been schooled in Japan. The community was highly isolationist, with little fraternization with the rest of the Canadian public.
The 21,000 relocated B.C. Japanese were neither tortured, beaten, starved, raped, denied shelter nor suffered any other inhumane treatment.
In perspective, note that in the Second World War, 29 to 56 million innocent civilians were killed, many brutally. Along with many of the B.C. Japanese, those millions were the innocent victims of a hellish war.
David Poole, Surrey