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Japanese Internment


            The Second World War created an atmosphere of instability, suspicion, and fear, which blanketed the entire western world. Threats real and imagined existed everywhere. Since confederation, anti-oriental sentiment has been a part of white Canadian society. Japanese-Canadians were specifically stigmatized for their perceived unassailability, economic competitiveness, high birth rate, and a lingering loyalty to Japan (Ward 459). These are merely stereotypes and are debatably reflections of reality. However, in the wake of renewed Japanese imperialism, such stereotypes became very prominent in the British Columbia community. Men like Archdeacon F.G. Scott used the atmosphere of fear and distrust to advance their own private anti-Oriental agendas (Ward 460-461). Scott and other fear mongers like him played upon the public's growing fear. They created a public outcry against those of Japanese ancestry across British Columbia. There was immense public support for the internment of all Japanese in Canada. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King had reliable evidence which stated there was no threat presented by those Japanese living in British Columbia. However, public opinion, mounting international concerns, and the threat to the safety of the Japanese themselves forced King's hand. Thousands of Japanese Canadians were interned during the war without one ever being charged with any crime. In fact, there is significant evidence to suggest that the Japanese Canadians were loyal to Canada. The Japanese community in British Columbia showed a great deal of support for victory bonds drives and the Red Cross (Ward 463). In the article The Evolution of the Japanese Canadian, 1942: Realist Critique of the received Version, J.L. Granatstein and Gregory A. Johnson attempt to provide a justification for the for the internment of the Japanese. They suggest that there was a credible external threat presented by the Japanese military as well as a credible internal threat presented by the Nisei, or second generation Canadians.


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