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  • At the time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, there were approximately 21,000 persons of Japanese ancestry ("Nikkei") living on the west coast of Canada, the majority of whom were Canadian citizens, 13,600 of whom were Canadian-born nisei (source: p. 8 Politics of Racism , Anne Sunahara).
  • The first recorded Japanese immigrant, Manzo Nagano, arrived in Canada in 1877 and in spite of anti-Asian Canadian immigration policies and laws that restricted the rights of the Nikkei to vote, own property and fishing licenses and to enter certain professions, among other things, the Nikkei established themselves on the west coast of Canada and thrived.
  • Ironically, the growing success and ambitions of the Nikkei led to the enactment of further restrictive laws designed to deal with what British Columbian politicians referred to as their "Japanese problem". In 1895, British Columbia disenfranchised all persons of Japanese ancestry and this led to their disenfranchisement federally and their exclusion from certain professions, such as law, medicine and dentistry (the franchise for the Nikkei was not restored until 1948 federally and 1949 in B.C.). Japanese immigrants were denied licenses to use motors in their boats and, in the 1920’s, the number of fishing licenses issued to the Nikkei was restricted.
  • Through hard work, ingenuity and thrift, by 1941, the Nikkei had became a small but dominant force in certain key west coast industries, notably commercial fishing, logging, and market gardening in the fertile Fraser Valley. Nikkei-owned businesses, including sawmills, fisheries, canneries and berry farms, were not only successful but formed the centers of population growth and community activity.

JCCC — Last modified Mar 30 2011 8:02 p.m.

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