Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Long Afterlife of Nikkei Wartime Incarceration

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Long Afterlife of Nikkei Wartime Incarceration

Article excerpt

Karen M. Inouye, The Long Afterlife of Nikkei Wartime Incarceration (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), 256 pp. Cased. ?47. ISBN 978-0-8047-9574-6.

In this book Inouye provides a disturbing account of the long-term psychological impact of the incarceration of American and Canadian Nikkei during the Second World War. One of the consequences of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was that the West Coast American and Canadian Nikkei (people of Japanese ancestry) were accused of disloyalty. No evidence has ever been found to substantiate this accusation. In December 1941 Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King ordered the partial evacuation of British Columbia with a focus on Japanese immigrants followed by a full evacuation of Japanese-Canadian citizens in February 1942. President Roosevelt also issued Executive Order 9066 in February 1942 ordering the relocation of western United States JapaneseAmerican citizens and Japanese residents to a number of inland camps. In both countries the Nikkei were dispossessed of their homes, businesses, and most of their belongings, receiving only a fraction of the true value.

Inouye observes that there were some major differences between the treatment of the American and Canadian Nikkei. First, the Canadian government acted entirely within the law. In contrast, in 1983 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Roosevelt's executive order was invalid, reversing a 1944 United States Supreme Court decision. Second, in Canada some Nikkei men were separated from their families and forced to build roads or work on sugar beet farms, while others were sent to a prisoner of war camp, and Nikkei women and children were relocated to remote towns in the interior with generally poor conditions, whereas in the United States most Nikkei families were kept together. …

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