The Intergenerational Differences
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 prooting 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 em. y of the Japanese Canadians hard work, discipline, and contempt with the low pay and living standards that were pushed upon them. l 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.
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 nfluence on the Nisei children and pushed them away from the Japanese ideals of their parents, and towards that of the Western Cultures. 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 Navvy 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 nd 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 rumors.
The effect of the uprooting and evacuation caused the Japanese Canadian Issei to be torn between their mother country Japan and their adopted country Canada. During this time many Issei chose to turn toward Japan for comfort and reacted to the expulsion by following their Japanese principles of cooperating with the Canadian Government, and accepted their punishment and had faith in Japans victory. 0 This excerpt from the diary of Koichiro Miyazaki explains his feelings during expulsion, “We Japanese who are overseas, have been isolated in enemy countries and our families are scattered. But despite our hardships we believe that everything is for our native country’s future. This faith keeps me going. I believe that I am not the only one filled with confidence. ” 1 1 The Nisei generation had little to no traditional ties to their parents mother land Japan, and thought themselves to be completely Canadian.
Many Nisei such as Muriel Kitagawa tried to maintain a positive outlook when the expulsion of Japanese Canadians first went into effect and tried to rationalize the Canadian Governments actions and had faith that they would protect the loyal Japanese Canadian Nisei. 12 Like the Issei many Nisei encouraged Japanese Canadians to cooperate with the government, and have faith in the RCMP. However political and age differences within the Nisei society, caused some Nisei to react differently to the expulsion. Many younger Nisei tried to fght against the Canadian Government and refuse to obey.
These Nisei experienced severe backlash from the Government and were immediately imprisoned or beaten. 13 As the war continued the expulsion of the Japanese Canadians from the West Coast was no longer Just for the men but now for people of all people of Japanese origin, including women and children. At this point the Canadian Government has full control over Japanese Canadians property and can sell it without the owner’s consent, and many Japanese Canadian families have been separated from the uprooting.
On August 4 1944 Prime Minister King states that it is desirable that Japanese Canadians are dispersed across Canada. Applications for reparation” to Japan are sought by the Canadian ernment. Those who do not apply must move east of the Rockies to prove their loyalty to Canada. The Issei faced the difficult decision to apply for reparation and be back in their familiar homeland where some still had family, however the Issei who had been separated from their family during the expulsion faced the fear of their family being left behind to suffer in camps.
Some Issei who chose to apply got their application denied and were orced to move across the Rockies, this caused many Issei to lose all hope of ever returning to Japan. 14 The Nisei, even those who initially trusted the Canadian Government to take care of the loyal and innocent citizens, felt that they had been absolutely betrayed by the country that they loved. They were being forced to give up everything that they own and had worked so hard for Just to prove their loyalty to Canada.
Some younger Nisei reacted to the move with an adventurous spirit, however many Nisei that had families of their own were faced with a very difficult decision with very uncertain outcomes. 5 Muriel Kitagawa voices her concerns in a letter to her brother: And the Nisei, repudiated by the only land they know, no redress anywhere. Sure we can move somewhere on our own, but a Job? Who will feed the family? Will they hire a Jap? Where can we go that will allow us to come? The only place to go is the Camp the Government will provide when it gets around to it.
Ah, but we are bewildered and bitter and uncertain. 16 The expulsion of the Japanese Canadians from the West Coast during World War II Shattered the strong communities that existed among both the Japanese Canadian Issei and Nisei. Hard-working people were fired from their Jobs by employers that they had worked many loyal years for solely because of their race. The property that they worked for and and rightfully owned, could be taken away from them with as little as 24-hour notice, and sold by the Canadian Government without the need of consent from the owner.
Families were torn apart and sent to camps where they were forced to work and live in harsh and extreme conditions. Despite the fact that both Japanese Canadian Issei and Nisei experienced these hardships as a result of he uprooting and expulsion during World War II, intergenerational differences such as traditional values, education, language and age, directly influenced the different and changing reactions that the Issei and Nisei had throughout their experience of expulsion from Canada’s west coast during World War II.