History of The Bulletin Part III
In the May Bulletin, we traced the history of The Bulletin from the aftermath of the Japanese Canadian Centennial in 1977 through to November 1984. At this time the magazine underwent a major overhaul, and was updated with a new look and expanded content, overseen by a new, activist JCCA board, voted in at the 1984 AGM.
WITH THE RESIGNATIONS OF LONGTIME PUBLISHER GORDON MAYEDE and a number of the volunteer office staff in the fall of 1984, The Bulletin undergoes its most dramatic makeover since it began publishing in April, 1958. The new staff includes English editors Tamio Wakayama and Randy Enomoto, Japanese editor Sumio Koike and office Manager Fumiko Greenaway. Together they set out to reinvent The Bulletin, switching to a more conventional magazine format and adding more content, including a greater emphasis on photographs, with Wakayama, a talented photographer, providing the bulk of them.
Up to this point, the Redress issue had received very little coverage in the lower mainland, due in part to reluctance on the JCCA Board’s part to take sides in the debate, but this changes drastically with the “new” Bulletin. The cover of the December 1984 issue features the headline, NAJC Submits Redress Brief to the Government. The cover story recounts how, on November 20, a brief titled Democracy Betrayed: The Case for Redress for Japanese Canadians, was presented to the new Conservative Government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney by the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC). Says the article, The brief draws on the government’s own documents to show, that contrary to officially stated reasons in 1942, the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Canadians had no basis in military necessity and that, in reality, these actions were motivated by political considerations based upon racist traditions accepted and encouraged by politicians within the government of the day.
In order that Canadians are never again subjected to such injustices, the brief urges that: “. . . the fundamental human rights and freedoms set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be considered sacrosanct, non-negotiable and beyond reach of any arbitrary legislation such as the War Measures Act.”
Finally, the brief calls upon the government “. . . to acknowledge its responsibility to compensate Japanese Canadians for injustices suffered and seeks a commitment from the Government of Canada to enter into negotiations towards a just and honourable settlement of this claim.”
THE YEAR-END ISSUE COVERS A BROAD RANGE of subject matter, from the introduction of the new Community Kitchen and Milestones features, to a piece on the JCCA constitution by Charles Kadota.
In the Letters to the Editor section, a reprint of a letter to the editor of Hockey News protests the use of the word “Jap” in the November issue of Hockey News (from the Official Hockey Dictionary: “JAP: A Samurai hockey player who uses a stick other than to play the puck, particularly when an opponent’s back is turned). This is followed by an announcement that Alberta hockey player Steve Tsujimura has been signed by the New Jersey Devils.
The issue concludes with a transcription of a speech given by Tommy Shoyama at the Community Form on Redress, held on August 3 at the Vancouver Japanese Language School.
An except from the speech reveals an articulate statesman with a keen grasp of the issues: I think one of the worst aspects of the whole experience, was the way in which it split and rendered divisions within our own community. I don’t mean simply separation of people, but separation of ideas and the separation of response, the way different parts of the community reacted to that challenge and how we tended to put distance between ourselves. We were very divided in our response. The disruption of that sense of community we had been able to enjoy so much during 50 years of growth and development was a very, very painful experience. And I know that many people found themselves in deep disagreement with even members of their own family as to how we should react. That was a very difficult and stressful period, perhaps the worst of all.
But in spite of that, in spite of all that pain, that anger, that frustration, those of us who were older, although I suppose I was younger than most of my fellow panelists, we had a feeling about the circumstances and the context in which all of this had taken place. Most of us had been aware that for 50 years there had been a black record of anti-Japanese prejudice, anti-Japanese discrimination, haiseki in the worst way. We are also aware, of course, that while David Suzuki and others can speak today and tonight about human rights and human freedoms, the democratic ideal, these were very, very fragile, almost undeveloped in the context of those days.
He concludes with a nod to the sansei: All of us older people, I’ve been getting an old age pension on now for a little while, I think all of us older people owe a real debt of gratitude to the Sansei, to the young people who have been opening our eyes and showing us the same kind of spirit, the same kind of energy, the same kind of broader vision of the world that we were trying to find 40 years ago too, when we were all much younger.
IN THE JANUARY 1985 ISSUE OF THE BULLETIN, the editorial acknowledges the internal turmoil of the previous year, while paying tribute to those who kept The Bulletin going over the years: 1984 was a momentous year for the Bulletin. In October, Gordon Mayede, after 18 years of dedicated service, retired as publisher and we feel the community owes Gordon, Mary Oishi and the many volunteers of the former Bulletin staff, a debt of gratitude for keeping this valuable line of communication open. We, the new staff, have simply built upon the secure foundation laid by them.
We are rapidly coming to the end of our trial period on the Bulletin. At the upcoming Annual General Meeting, the JCCA membership will elect a new Board of Directors and their disposition towards the Bulletin may change. But whatever the outcome, we feel that it is crucial that the Bulletin continue as an open and effective forum of ideas in which our community can explore a redefinition of its cultural identity and a resolution of its history through the process of redress.
New Year’s messages from Tonari Gumi, the Greater Vancouver Japanese Immigrants Association of BC, and the JCCA Redress Committee establish a precedent of providing space to community organizations to disseminate information. An in-depth review of Roy Ito’s seminal new book, We Went to War, shows a determination to expand the paper’s critical analysis and to delve deeper into the accomplishments of the community’s creators, including its writers.
THE FEBRUARY ISSUE LEADS OFF WITH THE HEADLINE NAJC Rejects Unilateral Redress Settlement. The story documents the government’s attempt to impose a Redress settlement on the community, and its intention to gain all-party support for a resolution in which Japanese Canadians would be offered an acknowledgement of past injustices and the establishment of a $6,000,000 educational fund. In response to this surprise move by the government, the NAJC convenes a telephone conference, voting to reject the imposed settlement.
The guest editorial, by Roy Miki, Chairman of the Greater Vancouver JCCA Redress Committee, is a blistering attack on the actions of George Imai, ousted Chairman of the NAJC National Redress Committee. According to Miki, Imai is now acting under the name Japanese Canadian National Redress Committee, and has been openly attacking the NAJC in the media in an attempt to undermine its status as the only official organization authorized to represent Japanese Canadians.
The Letters to the Editor page contains a letter from Ontario’s Susan Hidaka to the Canada Times, a Toronto-based community paper, protesting its coverage of the Redress campaign and its attacks on the NAJC.
1985 SEES THE BULLETIN COME INTO ITS OWN as a community paper with a broad reach and mandate. The triumphs, achievements and struggles of the community are documented in feature stories and reviews including pieces on the campaign to save the historic Kishi Boat Works and a review of Rick Shiomi’s play Yellow Fever. The most moving story covers the relighting of the lantern atop the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park that was extinguished with the expulsion of the Japanese Canadian community from the coast during the Second World War.
Accompanied by a poignant photo essay by Tamio Wakayama, the article highlights another step in the rebirth of the Nikkei community: After more than four decades of darkness, the light of the War Memorial to Japanese Canadians who fought and died in WWI, once again shines in Stanley Park.
In a solemn and moving ceremony on August 2nd, the light was rekindled by Mr. Masumi Mitsui, 98, who is the only surviving Issei veteran of WWI, living in Canada. Mr. Mitsui, accompanied by two daughters, Mrs. Lucy Ishii and Mrs. Amy Kuwabara, had flown in from Hamilton to be the guest of honour at the re-dedication Ceremony.
Amongst the crowd of about 150 people, was a small group from Port Coquitlam bearing a special, handwritten placard welcoming the Mitsuis, who were former friends and schoolmates from the pre-war days. It was a tearful reunion for the old friends who had not seen each other since 1942, when the Mitsui family lost their thriving poultry farm and were moved into Hastings Park.
The ceremony marked the successful completion of the first phase of a national campaign which was undertaken over a year ago by the Greater Vancouver JCCA. A special committee, headed by Frank Kamiya, held talks with city officials and began to solicit nationally for the required funds. A $3,500 grant from Vancouver City Council and City Parks Board enabled the Parks Board to rewire the Monument with a new sodium vapour light. It is hoped an equal amount will be raised from private donations to effect a complete restoration.
After the opening prayers and introduction of the guests, Mr. Mitsui pushed the button to relight the monument. There was no immediate result as the special long-life bulb required some time to warm up, but as the final, haunting notes of the Last Post fell over the hushed crowd, a faint glow began to appear atop the War Memorial.
In a final act of tribute, the aged veteran arose from his wheelchair, placed a wreath on the foot of the monument, and standing rigidly at attention, snapped off a smart salute to the memory of those who had died for their country and for the betterment of their community. “I’ve done my last duty to my comrades. They are gone but not forgotten.”
THE ONGOING REDRESS CAMPAIGN continues to play out on the pages of The Bulletin, with progress (or lack thereof) being reported regularly. Letters both for and against the movement appear regularly, including a letter to the Officer of the Minister of State Multicultralism from Rev. Hedwig D. H. Bartling, St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church, Vancouver, excerpted below:
The humiliations of the evacuation are not lightly forgotten and the Nisei well remember being treated as second class or less, in fact as one of them put it, “as cattle”. Today they resent being told that the government will graciously grant them some form of apology and a dubious indemnity for losses which can never be repaid – losses of statehood, of professional standing, of education and of friendship, as well as the loss of home and property.
It will take something more than a mere government pronouncement, grudgingly given, to heal a very deep wound. I suppose the scattering of the Canadians of Japanese origin has watered down their vote but let me assure you that Canadians are watching your treatment of a very loyal minority, and it will bear fruit.
IN THE JUNE 1985 ISSUE, THE NAJC announces that it has commissioned Price Waterhouse to conduct a Socio-Economic Study to assess losses suffered by Japanese Canadians as a result of wartime injustices.
The article reads, in part: This decision on the part of the NAJC to require a study by an independent agency prior to a redress settlement with the government affirms the organization’s efforts to place on record, for the benefit of all Canadians, the nature and extent of losses.
At community meetings in Japanese Canadian communities across Canada during the past three months, the NAJC was encouraged to seek a professionally determined estimate of the impact of the forced uprooting, incarceration, confiscation and liquidation of properties, belongings and businesses during the war, and the post-war dispersal across Canada. The struggle to redress those injustices must be based on an authoritative assessment of the socio-economic impact on those who were affected.
Last month, NAJC President Art Miki met with the Honourable Jack Murta, Minister of Multiculturalism, to discuss the NAJC’s request for a Socio-Economic Study and was informed that the government had decided against support for such a study. Admitting its educational and historical value, Mr. Murta commented that the government did not favour compensation to Japanese Canadians and that their support of the study could commit them to compensation.
The study proposed by Price Waterhouse will cover such areas as: Losses suffered through the confiscation and liquidation of properties, belongings, and businesses; Loss of income; Disruption of education; Loss of life insurance policies and pension benefits; Loss of community facilities, such as schools, churches, and community organizations.
The study will also account for the loss of savings and capital to Japanese Canadians resulting from the government’s policy of requiring those forcefully uprooted and relocated to pay for their own incarceration.
THE JANUARY 1986 ISSUE OF THE BULLETIN opens with a commentary by Randy Enomoto on the new JCCA constitution, ratified at special general meeting in October. Addressing the fact that new immigrants may now sit as directors, Enomoto writes: The new constitution may be seen to depart from the purist position (that only citizens can contribute to the community in meaningful ways) and recognizes an important social-cultural reality: that the Japanese Canadian community is replenished and revitalized principally by the energies of the Shin-Issei, the new immigrants, and that the Japanese Canadian identity is cyclical rather than linear in nature. Just as the community is mourning the loss of its Issei and experiencing the acculturation of its third and fourth generations, it is enriched by the influx of the Shin Issie with the fresh vision of a new world that only pioneers can impart.
It is perhaps a measure of political maturity within the JCCA that the organization is no longer threatened by, but invites the participation of new immigrants. In years past, an exclusionary sentiment prevailed which was based in part, one suspects, on fear of “guilt by association” – i.e., that one’s own claim to citizenship would be diminished or discounted if one kept company with “noncitizens” (the community was still busy trying to out-distance the “enemy alien” label).
The major thrust of the new constitution is to be as inclusionary as possible, expanding the concept of what it means to be Japanese Canadian, while maintaining the particularity of an organization whose members are a visible minority.
THE JANUARY ISSUE ALSO CONTAINS A SHORT PIECE by the Japanese Canadian National Redress Association of Survivors, a group that claims to represent most Japanese Canadians who experienced the wartimes years in Canada, mostly issei, but including some nisei. The group is against individual compensation and instead advocates:
a) a proper formal acknowledgement from the Parliament of Canada of the injustices imposed upon all Canadians of Japanese ancestry during and after the Second World War until 1949,
b) co-operation to create a Japanese Canadian memorial trust foundation – a historical legacy with a significant contribution of funds to help provide income for:
i) research deemed desirable to make a submission to the government that no Canadian will be subject to the same fate suffered by the survivors,
ii ) the expediting of matters in the quest for racial justice for all Canadians,
iii) programs for survivors, particularly for the elderly who have such a need,
iv) research to compile records, only for historical purposes, on matters pertaining to Japanese Canadian victims of the injustices during and after the Second World War up to 1949,
v) an Issei Human Rights Award in memory of all the Issei, who suffered the most from injustices to be awarded to those Individuals
or groups who have made outstanding contributions in the field of human rights.
In the NAJC Newsletter, also included in the January Bulletin, the NAJC announces plans for a delegation to Ottawa to prevent unilateral action by the new Minister of Multiculturalism Otto Jelinek, who has stated that he will not negotiate Redress with the NAJC and will instead impose his own settlement. The organization also announces the formation of a Strategy Committee made up of members from across the country including Kay Shimizu, Roger Obata, Maryka Omatsu, Bryce Kambara, Gordon Hirabayashi, Roy Inouye, Roy Miki and Cassandra Kobayashi.
The Strategy Committee will be responsible for implementation of the Council’s decisions, contacts with government, recommending strategy, overseeing research projects, maintaining an information network within Council, and overseeing Working Committees.
IN THE MARCH 1986 ISSUE, The Bulletin carries a report on the Grace MacInnis Testimonial Dinner, held on February 15 as a benefit for the Redress Campaign. MacInnis was the first British Columbian woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons and was the first wife of a former Canadian Member of Parliament to be elected to the House of Commons in her own right, rather than by directly succeeding her husband in a by-election following his death. She is the daughter of CCF founding leader J.S. Woodsworth and the wife of longtime CCF MP Angus MacInnis, an outspoken civil libertarian who spoke out against the discrimination against Japanese Canadians and was an early advocate of extending the right to vote to Japanese Canadians. As the Bulletin article points out, the attendance at the sold-out dinner is an indication of growing support for the Redress movement within the Nikkei community and the community at large. Attending the dinner are Mayor Mike Harcourt, Alderman Marguerite Ford, MP Ian Waddell, MLA Alex MacDonald and former NDP leader Dave Barrett. The keynote speaker is Justice Thomas Berger.
IMMIGRATION FROM JAPAN IS INCREASING and the issue of how new immigrants from Japan can be welcomed into the Japanese Canadian community is brought to the fore in an editorial by Tatsuo Kage following the 1986 AGM in March, the first part of which reads: At this year’s election of the Board of Directors, as already reported, 20 members of our community were elected to the new Board for the year 1986/87. This time we have six postwar immigrants among them. This is something noteworthy, as in the past there were hardly any new immigrant board members.
A few years ago, when many community members became critical of the board’s policy of remaining neutral in the redress issue, a turn-about took place and many new people joined the board. Since then, many positive changes have occurred: Vancouver JCCA has become the most active centre of the redress movement, our Bulletin has become perhaps the best periodical publication in the Japanese community in Canada.
Now with more postwar immigrants on the board, we are ready to consider and carry out a number of programs in which new immigrants can play a key role:
1) The JCCA should support and promote closer co-operation between Canada and Japan. It is a well known fact that a large number of Canadians including those with Japanese ancestry are interested in various aspects of Japan and Japanese people, culture and society, economy and politics. The immigrant members of our community can contribute to the better understanding of Japan and Japanese through their experience, expertise and language capability. At the same time we have to be aware of the effect of the community’s past experience, especially the fact that there has been a certain reservation among our community members, Nisei and Sansei, whenever they have to deal with people from Japan. However, we have to readjust our attitude toward people from Japan, as we are expecting, in the near future, to overcome our past through the resolution of the redress issue.
2) The JCCA should consider carrying out activities which help new immigrants especially those who have arrived recently. They have been participating in a series of the JCCA’s activities such as the annual picnic, golf tournament and children’s Christmas party. However, we do not have any programs aimed specifically at assisting or integrating them in our community. We are expecting more immigrants this year as the federal government introduced a policy expanding the intake of immigrants including business immigrants. The established community of Japanese Canadians should welcome and assist the newcomers for they bring new blood, energy and wisdom and provide the link between our community and the contemporary Japan. By helping them to integrate our entire community will benefit.
THE SAME ISSUE CONTAINS A FEATURE on the Strathcona School Reunion. Lord Strathcona Elementary, in the years leading up to World War II, had a large number of Japanese Canadian students. In 1937, of the 1,458 students, half were Japanese Canadian. This ratio remained static until the forced evacuation, at which time the student population was cut in half overnight. The article contains reminiscences from former students Tad Wakabayashi and Mary Seki.
The April issue carries a piece on the Vancouver Japanese Language School, which is celebrating its 80th Anniversary. It also contains an extensive four-page Redress Questionnaire that is intended to both gather census-type information and gauge community support for the various forms of Redress.
The June issue features a review of a new book, This is My Own, Letter to Wes and Other Writings on Japanese Canadians (1941-1948) by Muriel Kitagawa, edited by Roy Miki. The book, published by Talon Books of Vancouver, is being sold as a fundraiser for the NAJC. The review by Randy Enomoto concludes: Muriel’s arguments are sometimes mechanical and laboured in construction—at worst, homilistic and moralizing. (One senses that her friends sometimes experienced her as an affliction or a nuisance.) Yet her absolute refusal to internalize the overwhelming oppression of her time—to lapse into the silence of her generation—is deeply stirring. She calls things the way she sees them, and her mind strips all rationalizations away: “Is anything that is fundamentally wrong ever good? No, the evacuation was not a good thing; it was the undefeated spirit of the evacuees that was good.”
Most importantly, for our community, This Is My Own interrupts the myth of the Nisel as the passive generation. It would be easy to view Muriel as a political gadfly, the glaring contradiction of her times. Yet a reading of her work yields up a different conclusion. Muriel is unique in her ability to analyze and articulate, yet her day to day chronicling makes it clear that her courage is the courage of the Nisei, her passion and labour represent the best of the Nisei spirit in winning through the quicksand of their circumstance. The publication of this book allows our community to take great pride in claiming Muriel as our own.
A limited edition print by sansei artist Linda Ohama is also being sold through The Bulletin as a fundraiser. Watari Dori (bird of passage) is the final piece in a series concerning her family’s expulsion from the west coast in 1942 and will go on to raise many thousands of dollars for the Redress movement.
TENSIONS AMONG SOME LEADERS IN the Nikkei community surrounding the Redress movement are coming to a head, some of which make it into the pages of The Bulletin over the summer months. An article by Stum Shimizu on the editorial page of the July issue examines a meeting held in Toronto in an attempt to mend a rift within the Toronto Nikkei community, primarily over the issue of Redress. Another article by Charles Kadota addresses the impression among many that the community is deeply divided on the issue of Redress. It is an impression, he writes, being fostered through a concerted smear campaign by a dissident group in Toronto (the Japanese Canadian National Redress Association of Survivors) to discredit the NAJC.
The next issue contains an editorial by Roger Obata lambasting the Executive of the Toronto chapter of the JCCA for holding “the most fraudulent and disgraceful meeting (AGM) ever held in Toronto.” The issue also contains the news that David Crombie has replaced Otto Jelinek as Minister of Multiculturalism, a move that is seen as positive for the Redress movement, given Jelinek’s intransigence on the matter of negotiating a fair settlement.
WHILE THE EBB AND FLOW OF THE REDRESS CAMPAIGN continues to dominates the news, The Bulletin continues to cover news and events within the community. Two issues that are beginning to take on greater urgency are the care for the elderly within the community and the need for a cultural centre in the lower mainland.
Regarding care for the elderly, Robert Nimi writes, In the event that a long term residential care facility becomes a necessity, the problems facing the family suddenly escalate. Primarily, there is the shortage of such facilities in the Greater Vancouver region. Location, quality of available care, the cost of the available care, etc., also become matters of great concern. Even under the best of circumstances, the problems associated with language barrier and the preference for our own ethnic food become apparent. These problems are real—they are occurring many times over, to the detriment of the Japanese Canadian elderly. These people are our beloved Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts and Uncles. In their last year of their lives, they deserve the best care that we can give—not only in physical care, but in emotional care as well.
The major obstacle in providing a suitable long term care facility, of course, is funding. In the context of the present economic conditions, funding from the various levels of governments for health care facilities, even for the general population, is almost non-existent. This means that for a small ethnic group like the Japanese Canadians, the possibility of obtaining government assistance becomes very remote. As the economic conditions improve, this situation may improve, but this may mean waiting a considerable number of years before a project can be completed. The need for a Japanese Canadian care facility exists now. Somehow, we must find a solution sooner.
THE DECEMBER ISSUE CONTAINS A REPORT on a meeting held to discuss the building of a cultural centre in Vancouver. Two JCCA Board members, Mark Ando and Ken Shikaze, had previously been assigned to head a subcommittee to undertake a preliminary investigation into a Nikkei multi-use facility. The December meeting had been called to deal with the possibility of obtaining land on the Expo 86 site, specifically the area where the Folk Life pavilion stood on the shores of False Creek.
Says the article: Mr. Ando has always felt that a central focus was needed by the scattered Nikkei community and the main purpose of his commitment to a cultural centre was to bring everyone together. He went on to say that the time is ripe for such a project since he was encouraged by the tremendous growth in the Nikkei community over the last ten years. And with the increased importance of Pacific Rim trade, he sensed the beginning of a new age—there is general interest in all things Japanese and Vancouver itself is rapidly becoming an international city.
It is significant that the term Nikkei is used freely throughout the article instead of the more common Japanese Canadian. The term, used to describe people of Japanese descent living outside Japan, is felt by some to be a more inclusive term than Japanese Canadian, encompassing as it does new and landed immigrants.