Remembrance Day 2011 [11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the 2011th year]
In spite of a cold, rainy and blistery day, about 200 dedicated souls came out for the 86th annual Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. It was heartening to see the families, friends and supporters huddled together to pay tribute to those Japanese Canadians who made the supreme sacrifice for our country, our community and our civil liberties.
On the morning before the ceremony began, two men told their stories on the Bill Good Show on Radio CKNW Vancouver. Yosh Hyodo, an S20 veteran currently living in Toronto, shared his experience getting trained in Japanese language to prepare for his duty as an interpreter/interrogator in occupied Japan in 1945 for the South East Asia Command of the Intelligence Corps. Then our moderator, Gordon Kadota, shared his poignant experience of being stuck in Japan with his mother who had gone for a visit in 1941. An older brother signed up for the Japanese Imperial Army in Japan, while another brother still in Canada signed up for the Canadian Army in the South East Asia Command. It was good to have the wider community hear about the Japanese Canadian challenges of simply enlisting when they were considered enemy aliens.
We missed Roy Kawamoto, our MC of 18 years, who retired this year; he was our go-to guy for anything military and was one of the solid pillars of the War Memorial Committee. Gordon Kadota did a brilliant job of moderating and spoke about history in the making with the recent acceptance of the nomination to Parks Canada commemorating “JC Soldiers of the First World War and the fight to win the vote” in 1931 as a National Historic Event. David Mitsui, grandson of the late Sgt Mitsui submitted the nomination with the help of Roy Kawamoto. At some time in the future the event will be commemorated with a plaque. It really speaks to the hardships and determination of those vets who actually won the vote by a small margin, after years of trying—becoming the first group of Asians to win the franchise in British Columbia. Sgt Mitsui was the president of the BC Branch of Legion # 9, an all Japanese Canadian Legion Branch when they lobbied members of the BC Legislative Assembly in the second and successful attempt to win the franchise. The flag raised at the Remembrance Day ceremony is the Legion #9 flag.
Besides the always-respected presence of the Vancouver City Police Mounted Squad, there were also three on foot, led by our piper, Edward McIlwaine. The sound of the Lament and Reveille, played by Ross Bligh, was part of a somber tradition, as was the singing of O Canada and God Save the Queen by Keiko Norisue and the recitation of In Flanders Fields by Eileen Kitamura. Traditional representatives from City Hall, the Parks Board, RCMP, and the Japanese Consulate also graced the ceremony.
Reflections were given by Reverend Yoko Kihara of the Fraser Valley Japanese United Church. This year we were not able to see the planes flying past but we did hear them. A highlight of the ceremony was the photo of the vets taken in front of the cenotaph, and seeing their shining and proud faces as they bonded in a common cause.
Veterans in attendance this year:
Michiko Carignan – RCAF from 1952
Jim Nishihara – enlisted in Canada for Korean War Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps
Darren Kinoshita – served in Afghanistan – comes out from Petawawa every year.
Dick Nakamura – RCAF in 1947, flew to Korea during wartime.
Ray Nakamoto – enlisted in Japan to join Royal Canadian Army Service Corps in Korea
Sgt. George Shintani – S20 draft to South East Asia Command, Intelligence Division 1946-1948.
Yeiji “Lanky” Inouye – enlisted in Canada into the Royal Canadian Navy for the Korean War
Jim Nishiyama from Victoria
Denny Enjo from West Vancouver
Slim Kobayashi – enlisted for the Korean War
Wreaths were laid on behalf of:
Legion #9 Chris Yamauchi, grandson of Peter Yamauchi RCASC vet in the Korean War
S20 & Nisei Vets – visiting from Peterborough Sgt George Shintani (SEAC Intelligence & S20 graduate)
Consulate General of Japan – Consul General Hideki Ito
NAJC – David Iwaasa (Toru Iwaasa volunteered June 1941 for RC Engineers of 4th division)
NNMHC Justin Ault
JCCA President Ron Nishimura
RCMP Corporal Peter Somerville
City of Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang
Vancouver Parks Board Commissioners Sarah Blyth & Stuart Mac Kinnon
Vancouver Police Superintendent Mike Porteus
Konko Church of Canada Reverend Roderick Hashimoto
BC Judo Shinshu Buddhist Churches Federation Joanne Yuasa
Seicho-No-Ie Vancouver Soai Kai Ted Sakaino
Japanese Christian Churches of Fraser Valley Jonathan T. Yokoyama
A wreath of poppies was made from contributors at the ceremony and placed on the memorial.
The Japanese Canadian War Memorial Committee wishes to express their sincere appreciation to those dedicated volunteers and supporters who contribute to the success of the event every year.
The committee wishes to extend its grateful appreciation of the successful fundraising efforts of Mandy Shintani this year. In spite of a late start (committee changeover), she did an amazing job.Thanks Mandy! We wish to also thank the following donors for their generosity:
BC Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples Federation, Kaede Seniors Society, Mickey & Yoshiko Hayashi, Urban Poling, Shintani Giordan Design, Richard Murakami, Yoshio Arai, Mas Yamamoto, George Shintani, George Sugiyama, Yukimasu & Tamiko Kishimoto, Linda Kawamoto Reid, Seizaburo & Keiko Kobayashi, Virginia Sato, Derek Nishimura, Kaz & Marg Nakamoto, John & Marion Nakamoto, Dorothy & Steve Yamamoto, Pat & Jim Chua, Art Iwata, Yuji Ohara, Ron Miki, Don Iwanaka, Yoshihazu Shoda, Tad Kaweki, Mits Hayashi, Donna Nakamoto, James & June Nishihara and many anonymous donors.
In memory of Pte. Zennosuke Inouye WWI vet, Chiyoko & Kelvin Inouye
Donations from businesses and organizations:
Amano Foods Ltd, Kami Insurance, Baxter Kobe Florists, NAJC, NNMHC.
Donations for reception:
Peggy Madokoro for Manju, Naomi Kamiya, Sanaye Ikari, Miyoko Grignon, May Sato, Alice Takaki, Mandy Shintani, Chic Tanaka & Linda Kawamoto Reid.
Volunteers for reception, display and ceremony:
Carl Yokota, Ray Ota, Chris Yamauchi, Gordon Kadota, Victor Kuwabara, Cameron Reid, Caitlin Ohama, Beth Carter, Miyoko Grignon, Beth Carter, Kaz Takahashi, Naomi Kamiya, Sanaye Ikari, May Sato, Alice Takaki, Hiroko Stuart, Naomi Chiu, Donna Nakamoto, Walt Shore, Chic Tanaka, April Shimizu, Shag Ando, Emi Kordyback, Lillian Morishita, Frank Kamiya and Garth Taylor (photos).
We acknowledge the long service volunteers who retired this year:
Roy Kawamoto – Past Co-Chair, moderator, military historian, researcher, consultant, advisor, moral support and go-to guy for the Committee from 1993-2011.
Nancy Kato – volunteer for 12 years (1996-2008) and Chair for 3 years (2008-2011) Nancy has three vets in her family, Sgt Kato grandfather, Sergeant Major Shigeo Kato father, and Sgt Kazuo Kato, uncle. Nancy placed the wreath for the BC Branch Legion #9 for many years.
Don Yamane, Korean War Vet, presented the wreaths for many years.