The Bulletin: sixty years and counting
The JCCA is you and I and all those others whose interests and lives may diverge in a thousand ways, yet who all have the common bond of a racial and cultural ancestry. And as long as this bond exists between the individual members, there will be a Japanese Canadian community and, we hope, a JCCA. – from the Editorial, The Bulletin, March 1959
In 1949, four years after Japan’s surrender, the wartime restrictions that had been imposed on Japanese Canadians in 1942 were finally lifted. The long-sought-after franchise was granted, and they were free to live anywhere in the country and enter any profession.
Although many chose to remain east of the Rockies, either because they had planted new roots, or out of bitterness towards their treatment in British Columbia, others began to resettle on the west coast. Some returned to fishing or farming, while others took up new occupations. Younger people enrolled in universities or began to enter professions previously barred to them.
In this time of uncertainty, mixed with hope for a better future, people began rebuilding their lives. And as a new community formed in Vancouver, no longer centred around Powell Street, but dispersed across the city, it soon became evident that an umbrella organization was needed to provide advocacy for the community. The Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizen’s Association was formed in 1952.
In 1958, a young nisei named Mickey Nakashima came up with the idea of starting a newsletter for members of the JCCA. Having recently left Montreal, she named the new publication The Bulletin, after the Montreal Bulletin, creating a medium for disseminating information within the rapidly-growing community.
As we look back over the 60 years since our founding, we can trace through our pages the ebb and flow of a community in constant flux. The transition for the JCCA and the community wasn’t always easy and the issue of how to reintegrate into the mainstream Canadian society begged another question: what kind of identity did the Japanese Canadian community want for itself? It’s a question that still bears asking today.
As far back as the third issue of The Bulletin, a thirty-year-old nisei named George Fujisawa wrote a guest editorial decrying the tendency of Japanese Canadians to discriminate against new immigrants from other countries, saying “Now in our more favourable atmosphere we are treating the new group of immigrants in the very act which we fought so hard to eliminate. Should we not be more careful of harbouring any sort of discriminating opinions but rather assist those in more unfortunate circumstances?”
The October 1960 issue contained a notice that founding Editor Mickey Nakashima was stepping down to marry Min Tanaka, with feature writer Gordon Kadota taking over as Editor. This was the first of what were to be many changes in that position over the ensuing years.
In 1968, as The Bulletin celebrated its tenth birthday, it was already on its eighth Editor.
Interestingly, a January, 1969 article noted that a committee had been struck to contact other Japanese Canadian organizations to collect their views on building a Japanese Cultural Centre in Vancouver. This is the first mention of what would eventually become the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, some 30 years after it was first proposed.
The 1977 Centennial, marking 100 years since the arrival of Manzo Nagano, then thought to be the first Japanese immigrant to Canada, was heavily covered in The Bulletin, marking as it did the rebirth of the community, rekindling a long-dormant pride that had been hidden under years of shame, brought on by the wartime expulsion from the coast.
A half page article in the April 1983 issue presages what would be a sea change for the JCCA and The Bulletin. In a piece titled “Then and Now – A Comment,” the issue of the Redress movement was mentioned for the first time in the Bulletin’s pages, despite the fact that the movement had been under way for some time.
The notion of seeking redress for the wartime injustices visited upon Japanese Canadians had been tossed about for years, but it was the Centennial and the rise of sansei activism that lit a fire under it.
Following the article, a series of public meetings were held in Vancouver, Steveston and Burnaby and by September, The Bulletin’s pages were dominated by letters, arguments and counter-arguments as it became clear that the issue of Redress had polarized the community, not just in Vancouver, but across the country.
A letter from a Vancouver nisei captured the issue succinctly: “Like the saying goes, only united can we take a stand and be heard. Divided as we are, the fire of the Redress issue will burn out before it has a chance to catch on. Let’s not bicker over divisions of the first, second or third generations. This is an overall racial issue that can occur over again. Where is our leadership and direction? This should not be a personal issue for anyone. It is a National concern for every Canadian with a conscience of what Justice is all about.”
Despite this plea for reason, the first few issue of the New Year contained bitter accusations and arguments between the JCCA Board and vocal members who opposed the Board’s approach to, and position on, Redress.
And then things came to a head. The April 1984 issue contained a notice of the JCCA Annual General Meeting and by June, a new board was in place. In voting in a new slate, the JCCA was now dominated by an activist, pro-Redress Board.
Following the resignation of long-time publisher Gordon Mayede followed by the resignation of The Bulletin staff, the JCCA took over as publisher. The October 1984 issue featured a new format, but it was with the November issue, though, that the “new” Bulletin was birthed. Photographer Tamio Wakayama was installed as Managing Editor and Sumio Koike became Japanese Editor, while Fumiko Greenaway became Office Manager.
With a cover photograph by Tamio of the Japanese Canadian Cenotaph in Stanley Park and the headline, “Lest We Forget,” the issue set forth a bold new direction with expanded content. In what would be a regular feature over the next four years, there was extensive Redress reporting and related articles. New content included poems by Joy Kogawa and Roy Miki. The cover story featured the Japanese Canadians who fought in World War One and Two, accompanied by a story by Frank Kamiya on a proposal by the JCCA Centennial Committee to restore the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park and relight the cenotaph light that was extinguished with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the expulsion of Japanese Canadians from the coast.
The battle to achieve Redress was played out in the pages of The Bulletin for the next four years, culminating in the October, 1988, issue, with its headline, “Dream of Justice Achieved.”
When I came aboard as Editor in 1993, almost exactly 25 years ago, I was stepping into well-worn shoes. It has been my mission from the my first issue to carry on the tradition set out by Mickey Nakashima (now Tanaka) and Gordon Kadota, and all those who lit a torch in the years following the internment, shining a light into the community, and keeping the lines of communication open.
This month we reached out to three people who had a hand over the years in shepherding The Bulletin through its various growing pains. Thank you to Gordon and Randy and Liz for sharing their memories. I continue to be honoured to carry on their important work. Otsukaresama.
THE BULLETIN, SEEDS OF GROWTH
by Gordon Kadota
Mickey Tanaka (nee Nakashima), in her recollections for the 50th Anniversary of The Bulletin, mentioned all the people who each month helped to publish The Bulletin in her basement suite at King Edward and Dunbar. However, there were also people like Seichi Tahara, Sam Shishido and yours truly who were also there. We were the younger ones who were helpers to do the menial jobs, though no one thought it menial, jobs like cranking the Gestetner printer, sorting in postal zones, folding, licking the envelops and the stamps. Together, we always found a better and more efficient way of doing things.
After taking over The Bulletin from Mickey, firstly we had to find a place to do the work. Nobody had homes where we could use the basement. The Japanese Language School on Cordova, where many if not all our community activities took place, was no longer available to leave our equipment and come and go whenever there was work to be done.
Just around this time, Dr. George Ishiwara, who was the President of the BC JCCA, returned to Vancouver from Grand Forks to open his dental practice at 872 East Hastings and when he saw what we were going through to publish The Bulletin, he offered a room in the back of his office. So there we were, surrounded by unfamiliar dental equipment doing all the things we did in Mickey’s basement suite. The Bulletin was probably published from this room for seven or eight years. It is where many people contributed so we could purchase the long-awaited British-made Gestetner electric printer. We also considered an American AB Dick printer, but Gestenter was the machine we were familiar with and Gestetner was what we got.
Another significant developments in the early 60s was when I decided to print The Bulletin in both English and Japanese, as I thought it was equally important to have news and information in both languages. Essentially, I succeeded the Japanese section from Sato Sensei, the long-time keeper and teacher of the historic Vancouver Japanese Language School. I also thought The Bulletin would be better if the English and the Japanese sections were bound together, so I went to 20 lb paper to print on both sides and stapled the two sections what we called back to back. Of course we had to get an electric stapler because no one could staple 600 copies each having 12 sheets of 20 lb paper.
When we decided to have equal coverage in both English and Japanese, the major problem was that there was no such thing as a Japanese typewriter, so the Japanese section had to be hand written. For this, I had Michiko Kadota, who later became the Editor for the Japanese section, because she had much better hand writing than me. For a while I served as the English Editor, Japanese Editor and Translator, because whatever article that was going in The Bulletin had to be translated English to Japanese or Japanese to English. When Michiko Kadota became very busy with her own work, we asked Mr. Takeshi Makihara, who worked at the Japanese Consulate and who had near-perfect hand writing, to write the Japanese. There were times when an article was written the day before going to press but had to be translated and written in Japanese. Mr. Makihara spent many a late nights hand writing these articles.
Another point I felt was important was that The Bulletin, although definitely a JCCA publication, should be financially independent and have an editorial that could reflect and comment on the issues of the times without censorship. I still believe this is the way it should be even today.
The first step to become financially independent was to make it interesting for the readership and then solicit advertising. Some of the early advertisers were Kami Insurance, Chizu Florist, Maruno Shoestore, Amano Foods, and so on.
I left The Bulletin in 1970 or so. My tenure was not that long compared to the present Editor-in-Chief, but I believe it was a period of growth, taking The Bulletin to the next level. My respects to the people who helped this growth: Ritsu Saimoto (nee Enjo), Robert Furukawa, Gordon Mayede, Ken Matsune, Tamio Wakayama, Liz Nunoda, Randy Enomoto, Tomoko Yagi, Kazuko Takahashi, Fumiko Greenaway, Kazuho Yamamoto, Kaori Kasai, and, of course, the longest running Chief Editor, John Endo Greenaway. Apologies if I have missed any names.
Reflections on The Bulletin
by Randy Enomoto
One group known as the Isseibu supported a proposal by George Imai, a Toronto Nisei who advocated for a general community fund with no individual component.
I was part of a group of Vancouver Nikkei who had worked on the photo exhibit, A Dream of Riches (also published as a book in English, French and Japanese) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of JCs in Canada. Out of that group, Tamio Wakayama, Roy Miki, Fumiko Greenaway and myself formed the JCCP Redress Committee. Our position was to advocate for individual redress as a key priority within whatever agreement that was envisioned.
I remember renting an Apple 2e computer and working feverishly with Tamio and Roy to craft the language for a document that made the case for individual redress. At one point we were wrestling with words like “compensation,” “apology,” “acknowledgement,” and Roy proposed the word “redress” because the internment was an injustice we were seeking to redress.
We printed our document on a dot matrix printer and then turned it over to Fumiko, who worked at Intermedia Press. She typeset our work and published it as a booklet titled Democracy Betrayed. This later became the NAJC’s document of claim with the federal government.
As the concept of redress took hold in the community, two very courageous Issei women, Mrs. Kobayakawa and Mrs. Tagashira, broke from the Isseibu group and sided with the pro-individual redress movement. They became regular attendees at the house meetings that Roy convened. The secret to the success of the Vancouver Redress Committee is that it was fueled by the manju that Mrs. Tagashira would bring to almost every meeting.
The JCCA executive that had sided with the Isseibu was swept out of power when Charles Kadota successfully ran for the office of president and an entirely new board was elected.
If memory serves, The Bulletin office was located in the Japanese Language Hall. For many years, The Bulletin had been cranked out by handout on a Gestetner machine after stencils were cut on a typewriter. I am mortified when I recall how Tamio and I walked in and commandeered the new MS-DOS computer system from Gordon Maede, the custodian of the equipment and past board member. My long overdue apologies, Gordon, for my rudeness and insensitivity at that time.
For about the first year, Tamio served as editor of The Bulletin. He was succeeded by Fumiko. When Fumiko retired, I remember Linda Uehara Hoffman putting the bug in my ear about John Greenaway, a musician and drummer with Katari Taiko, the first taiko group to take root in Canada.
As president of the JCCA during the 80s, one of the best decisions I made was to hire John as the editor of The Bulletin. The consequences were far-reaching and profound.
His discipline, creativity and talent are reflected in every issue of this publication.
Please join me in congratulating John and wishing The Bulletin a happy 60th anniversary.