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The Evolution of A Canadian 'Enemy Alien' - The Frank Maikawa Story - Part 12 of 12

Read Part 11 >> 

Below is very much about the overall picture I saw in a nutshell through my experiences, memories, and what I conclude today: 

Regarding the B.C. Government stealing and taking our dignity/pride away—that was the worst heinous act human beings can do to other human beings in the world especially to their fellow Canadian citizens. They believed that they were a superior race, violated our human rights. And, never mind being called XXXXXX JAPS, the worst racial slur we couldn’t handle, they labeled us all as Enemy Aliens!

The Issei were working hard living through racial discrimination and were at their prime being recognized by their community as being successful in their lives and their children looking up to them as they were good role models. Then, overnight the ruthless government stripped away literally everything from them (roots, material things, as well as their dignity/pride) just because they were “yellow” and reduced them into a “nothing”—like a throw-away animal, a criminal (without basis), families split up, ignored and isolated and thrown into animal stalls, internment camps, road working camps, jails, or P.O.W. camps, so as homeless people and without even jobs they did feel like a NOTHING and this continued for years and years! When I talk about roots, I mean J-town where we were born, the heart which was our security blanket that we could always fall back to for comfort.

It wasn’t only the incarceration part that hurt, it was the long years of delay even after the war trying to ethnic cleanse us right out of B.C. and the after effects was even worse which continued for many generations. When you were the “breadwinner” of your family, how would anyone feel? Think about all this, people work all their lives to own a home, pay it off and save enough for retirement! After the war ended, for most Issei it was very difficult to find jobs that fit their skills. Also, without money the Issei couldn’t properly provide towards their children’s needs and higher education.

Many students to their credit worked through their higher education, obtaining part time and summer jobs. Some even delayed their schooling for several years to save money first. The older Nisei’s dreams were really shattered even more so and their course of life changed drastically as their schoolings (high school and university) were interrupted and they later had to help their families to become the “breadwinner” to restart their lives again—this changed their lives forever.

What kind of a so-called democratic country would do such a thing to their citizens? Yes, they were real hypocrites/bigots and had no conscience or remorse at all for what they did, devastating people’s lives. For the Issei during those durations, it must have been their lowest ebb of their lives! As for the past B.C. government, like their forefathers had no social conscience in their actions towards the JC citizens and no sense of moral responsibility. If they were remorseful they would have confessed the truth by now! Actually, those descriptive words above would indicate that they were a “sociopath” government and that’s exactly what they were.

The Issei suffered deeply as they were no longer looked up to. The older Nisei understood what was happening so they were good support but look at the younger Nisei and the later generations—they had no longer role models to lead them forth and some even looked down on the Issei and belittled them in many ways and that hurt. They were psychologically affected for certain.

Each generation was affected but in different ways and it was all in a sad way, everybody’s self-worth were destroyed during that period and that was mental torture and cruelty. It’s just amazing how most of the JCs recovered from the bashings and mental traumas they went through and became better than average model citizens of Canada in time. It must have been due to having faith, the “gaman” (tolerate) and “gambaru” (persevere) teachings that were left behind by the Issei for us to follow. “Doryoku” (always do the best you can, strive for excellence) family value was most important too and there were many more that we learned.

But foremost, the JCs recovered because the Issei pushed us to get a proper education! At the same time though, I’m also surprised that there weren’t too many psychologically affected depressed victims with post-traumatic stress disorder.

What humiliations we had to go through, and this left a very deep scar in our lives forever. I also find it just amazing that nobody ever did turn out to become criminally insane to get revenge when bullied like that for so many years. And, just think—all this started and happened because of the outcry we kept hearing “Keep B.C. White Only” long, long ago even before the war started as we were “yellow”. This outcry just didn’t start because of the war!

As for the B.C. government, they accomplished their agendas in a real sneaky way by use of exceptional con-artistry brainwashing threats against the JCs while being able to keep most of everything they did hidden (threatening and conniving the feds to deport all Japanese, no matter what their nationality status were along with their families at the beginning).

Government propaganda

The government was very tricky to the public and us, using words such as referring to us as “Enemy Aliens” to get their ethnic cleansing agenda started; ”evacuation” instead of forced removal from our homes; ”relocating” us to “relocation centers” instead of rounding us up and jailing us in internment camps, etc.; “repatriating” us “back home” to Japan instead of exiling JCs that have never seen Japan ever before—so, deporting to where?; ”protecting us from the coast people’s deep resentment against the JCs/Japan” and for that reason to ban us from returning to the coast as it will take time to forgive instead of saying they need more time, four or so more years after the war ended for ethnic cleansing purposes. Internment was a “military necessity” as JCs couldn’t be trusted if Japanese submarines attacked the west coast they said. While saying that, they conveniently ignored the German submarines sinking our supply ships along the east Atlantic shores and German Canadians weren’t interned.

I can’t remember the words they used to sell off all our homes and sell off or confiscate our businesses to prevent us from returning and to start the ethnic cleansing process but I’m sure they had one for that too. What did they say about throwing the 769 young JCs in POW camps when they spoke up against the injustices (they must have kept this completely hidden)? They had us so brainwashed that we were using their exact words they used, even today. Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare what we saw took place and what’s in the government archives? Looking into the B.C. government’s parliamentary records should reveal actual facts unless they were all shredded.

As for the B.C. Government’s apology on May 7, 2012, it puzzles me why they dealt only with the B.C. JCs and not nationally. I suspect that the B.C. government jumped at the chance to push the apology through by not having to reveal the “hidden truth” because they saw a big hole in the B.C. JCs stories they told when they asked for an apology. I had not seen an official apology statement so I checked it out and my skepticism was correct. The truth is still hidden. Yes, it was just wishful thinking on my part.

Right now it’s the same old story and an excuse—the B.C. government “had to follow” the War Measures Act which is a cover-up. There has been no mention that they threw out the RCMP’s and Fed’s “no threat—no security risk” reports and connived and threatened the Feds to use the WMA to do the ethnic cleansing. All this had been revealed by activists searching through the government archives soon after Redress. It’s very hard for humans to admit guilt and will have excuses, denials, hide it, blame others, twist things 180 degrees, or just keep quiet and the past B.C. government used them all! But it’s so easy! Just man it up.

NAJC can ask for a written truthful acknowledgement for future mandatory educational purposes in our school history books, can they not? The truth is the most important thing for all of us (all Canadians) and the JC generations that follow to feel confident and get rid of that inferiority complex!!! This also prevents bad history from repeating itself. And, this should be NAJC’s first priority which had been outstanding and neglected for almost 25 years since Redress. We just haven’t finished the job and if it’s left for the next generation it would get harder and harder to get it done. Wasn’t the NAJC provided funds to work against racial prejudice in 1988 and if we are running short of cash, I’m sure the Federal government will provide more for DOING THEIR JOB to write the truths in the Canadian history books.

How come the B.C. JCs are saying that this “so-called apology” came from the B.C. government’s hearts when it was shamed out of them 70 years later and it’s not even what they should be saying sorry about—they just repeated what the feds said on their behalf long ago (which did not include B.C.’s agenda). Did anybody do any research at all to admit a truthful and meaningful acknowledgement? At least the first step was done and good for them. These are my views.

This (adopted Ontarian) Canadian had a very long, long struggle to find out who I was and who I am, identity-wise although my birth certificate told me that I was a Canadian. In 1942, the B.C. government (my supposedly biological parents) brainwashed or forced me into believing that I was an “Enemy Alien” and threw me away because of my yellow skin colour. As for being a throw-away orphan for so long, was I ever happy in 1949 that the Ontario people adopted me and accepted me with no questions asked and gave me UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! I’ve found out, what is life without love and kindness. At last I understood why they say “GOD is LOVE”. Then 48 years later the Federal Government finally apologized to us individually so I was a Canadian again. Do you understand what I’m saying? Canada was where I was born and this is the only country that I know, it’s my home. No it isn’t, B.C. told me and they still haven’t peeled off the “Enemy Alien” label off me yet (actually it’s engraved into my brain and not on my wrist like what happened to the Jewish people!).

But I’m ignoring that and yes, I am really a Canadian again, proud that I was created yellow, made my contributions to Canada and I love my country—especially Ontario (now my second chance restarted roots) and I’m staying put right here in Collingwood to enjoy my golden years with my wife. Man oh man, what a life I had to go through—a real struggle to find out who I was and who I am! But most of all, I’ll remember what our Issei forefathers sacrificed for us, our Canadian pioneering HEROES who paved the way for us younger generations.

Thank you very much, especially Mom and Dad!

The End

Father and Mother rests at Pine Hills Cemetary, Scarborough - Mary and me around 1998

Author’s note:

Thank you to Norm Ibuki who shamed me into writing my story by saying it’s our duty and, indeed, you are right. Actually, you were the first person that ever asked me to write about anything. When I thought about it, none of us older than me have written anything much in detail and honest feelings about the good/bad old British Columbia days and there won’t be any history left behind to share the human side of the Japanese Canadian experience.

School history books must be written about the truth what we went through and our experiences and not made up twisted stories written by politician historians’ biased way to soften the government’s shameful actions. Teaching those excuses is harmful and causes bad history to repeat itself. What is the purpose for studying history? It’s about learning how to right the wrongs and not repeat it.


© 2013 Frank Maikawa

british columbia Canada enemy alien incarceration internment issei japantowns nisei postwar racism redress terminology vancouver World War II