Book Reviews -- Bitter Sweet Passage: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience by Maryka Omatsu

By Kurian, George | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Summer 1995 | Go to article overview

Book Reviews -- Bitter Sweet Passage: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience by Maryka Omatsu


Kurian, George, Journal of Comparative Family Studies


OMATSU, Maryka, BITTER SWEET PASSAGE: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience. Toronto, Ontario: Between the Lines, 1992, 188pp., $16.95 softcover/$34.95 hardcover

GEORGE KURIAN*

This book which deals with terrible experience of Japanese Canadian Families who were interned during the Second World War on the false assumption that they were security risks. While the subject of this publication only partly deals with family life, it is most thought provoking document. Both Canada and United States are gradually moving toward this context as multi cultural societies. In this context, the systematic discrimination against the Japanese is an eye open to everyone who might dismiss these tragic events as an aberration of history. The events leading to the internment of Japanese and the gradual rehabilitation of Japanese immigrants after the Second World War and the final redress settlement is described in detail in this book. These complicated events are presented in lucid style by the author which gives the reader a strong emotional experience.

The book starts with the Agreement signed by Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Brian Mulroney, on September 22, 1988, signifying successful conclusion of the years of hard work by the National Association of Japanese Canadians. In bringing these negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion, Mr. Gerry Weiner, the Minister of Multiculturalism and Mr. Lucien Buchard, the Secretary of State played an active role. It is not the great credit of Prime Minister Mulroney, that final decision was made by himself alone as he was probably concerned about the opposition by right wing conservatives. The settlement involved more than $400 million. The bulk of which was paid as compensation to each Japanese Canadian. They were each paid $21,000 plus $12 million for educational, social and cultural activities of NAJC and $24 million to Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

The second chapter deals with the unique culture of the Japanese. The author has her explanation for this persecution. While growing up in Hamilton, Canada and then visiting Japan, the author faced the cultural contradictions.

The third chapter deals with the repressive life in Canada and how the Japanese resisted racism by their faith in their cultural superiority. There have been continuing efforts by Japanese to find equality in Canada through legal channels; but always faced obstacles.

Chapter four describes the painful memories of the Second World War where families were uprooted and all their properties were confiscated. …

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