Remembrance Day 2012
95 years since Vimy, 70 years since being declared enemy aliens
Perhaps 300-350 people came out at the end of a glorious sunny week for the 87th annual Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. It was heartening to see the veterans, their 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.
A few days before the ceremony, Sgt Minoru Yatabe received his honorary degree from UBC in a private ceremony. It was a poignant gesture to acknowledge that 70 years ago, UBC had discharged all Japanese Canadian cadets in training and dismissed the Japanese Canadian students on campus when the war with Japan was declared. Min came out this year from North York Ontario to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies. He shared that in 1939 at the age of 17 he realized he would serve his country, but that too was interrupted since he was declared an ‘enemy alien’ and not able to enlist due to racist policies until 1945. He finished his degree in Ontario after his military service and joined his family who relocated to Ontario in the grand dispersal. Min served Canada in the Canadian Army South East Asia Command after graduating from the code-named S-20 Japanese Language School. He was posted in the ‘Intelligence division.’ It was great to have Min and his wife Lydia join us and for him to go down memory lane in Kitsilano where he grew up before the war. According to Min, there are about ten other S-20 vets still around in the Toronto area.
Gordon Kadota did a brilliant job of moderating and remembering the battle of Vimy Ridge 95 years ago. Sgt Masumi Mitsui fought that battle and was one of the last remaining WWI vets when he relit the lantern on the top of the monument in 1985. This year we welcomed Sgt Mitsui’s grandson David Mitsui and his family from Edmonton to continue the legacy. David was responsible for 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, submitting the nomination with the help of Roy Kawamoto. At some time in the future the event will be commemorated with a plaque near the cenotaph. It really speaks to the hardships and determination of those vets who won the vote by one ballot in the legislature, after years of trying, becoming the first group of Asians to win the franchise in British Columbia. Sgt Mitsui was the president of the all-Japanese BC Branch of Legion # 9 when they lobbied members of the BC Legislative Assembly in the second and successful bid 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, and the sound of the Lament and Reveille played by Junichi Fujii brought the somber tradition to the ceremony. Kerry Jang from City Hall, the Parks Board, Corporal Somerville from the RCMP, and the Deputy Consul Kinji Shinoda brought tradition to the ceremony. The much appreciated singing of O Canada and God Save the Queen by Keiko Norisue and the reciting of In Flanders Fields by Eileen Kitamura were also a tradition. Reflections were given by Reverend Roderick Hashimoto of the Konko Church of Vancouver. We were able to see the planes flying past and we could hear the gun salutes from the Victory Square memorial.
At the reception, we heard from David Mitsui followed by a short film on the veterans, produced by Linda Ohama & Brian Matsuo. It was a great photo expose of both wars and concisely outlined the contribution that Japanese Canadians made both for Canada and for the Japanese Community.
We missed Korean War Veteran Jim Nishihara, who passed away earlier in the year. We are grateful for his many years of exuberant support of the memorial and reception. And we acknowledge the passing of Korean War Veteran Henry Tanaka, long time Committee member and supporter of the annual memorial service. Lest we forget.
Veterans in attendance this year
Michiko Carignan RCAF from 1952. Lives in Coquitlam.
Dick Nakamura RCAF in 1947, flew to Korea during wartime. Lives in Victoria.
Ray Nakamoto enlisted in Japan to join Royal Canadian Army Service Corps in the Korean War
Sgt. Minoru Yatabe S20 draft to South East Asia Command, Intelligence Division 1945-1947.
Yeiji “Lanky” Inouye enlisted in Canada into the Royal Canadian Navy from 1948-1974.
Jim Nishiyama RCAF, lives in Victoria
Denny Enjo from West Vancouver
Wreaths were laid on behalf of
Legion #9-David Mitsui, grandson of Sgt Masumi Mitsui, lives in Edmonton
S20 & Nisei Vets – visiting from North York, Sgt Min Yatabe (SEAC Intelligence & S20 graduate)
Families of the Veterans – Chic Tanaka in memory of Korean War vet Henry Tanaka
NAJC – Tosh Kitagawa
Consulate General of Japan – Deputy Consul General Kinji Shinoda
Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Center Justin Ault
Greater Vancouver JCCA –Director Gabe Nutley
RCMP – Corporal Peter Somerville
City of Vancouver – Councilor Kerry Jang
Vancouver Police – Superintendent Mike Porteous
Vancouver Park Board – Commissioner Trevor Loke
Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Churches Federation of Canada- Dr. Bob Akune
Konko Church of Canada –Mrs. Jane Hashimoto
Seicho-No-Ie Vancouver Soai Kai – Tom Sakaino
Japanese Christian Churches of Greater Vancouver –Keiko Norisue
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 to the following donors for their generosity:
National Association of Japanese Canadians, Francisco Tamaki, Teruo Kitamura, Y. Inouye, Linda Kawamoto Reid, and many anonymous donors.
Donations in memoriam
In memory of Pte. Zennosuke Inouye WWI vet – Chiyoko & Kelvin Inouye
In memory of Pte. Henry Tanaka, Korean War Vet – May & Hiroshi Nakano from Chicago
In memory of Pte. Henry Tanaka & Major Al Nihei – Jean Kamimura
Donations from businesses and organizations
Amano Foods Ltd, Kami Insurance, Baxter Kobe Florists, NNM&CC.
Donations of food for reception
Miyoko Grignon, Alice Takaki, Chic Tanaka, Lillian Miyashita, May Sato, Sanaye Ikari, Lynn Kobayashi.
Volunteers for reception, display and ceremony:
Gordon Kadota, Ray Ota, Harry Otsuki, Chic Tanaka, Michael Yamauchi, Linda Reid, Cameron Reid, Beth Carter, David Mitsui, Jack Matsushita, Miyoko Grignon, Lillian Miyashita, Kaz Takahashi, Sanaye Ikari, May Sato, Alice Takaki, Naomi Chiu & Katie, Donna Nakamoto, Quinton Eagle, Walt Shore, April Shimizu, Shag Ando, Lily Omai, Miwako Mori, Rod Tanabe, Eileen Kitamura
The Japanese Canadian War Memorial Committee thanks the Vancouver Rowing Club and the Parks Board for supporting the event every year.