The War at Home

Controversy in the Community

“Yasushi Yamazaki was a great man, he founded the Tairiku Nippo newspaper and organized a fisherman’s union, [and] headed the Canadian Japanese Association who trained the Japanese Canadian Volunteer Corps. But there was another newspaper called Kanada Shinbun, which organized the Kakushin Domeikai (the alliance for reform) which opposed the CJA” – Kiyoji Iizuka

Yamazaki’s dream for a Japanese Canadian battalion fighting in service of the British Empire was not universally popular among Japanese Canadians. Some doubted that Canada would allow Japanese Canadians to fight for them, and saw the initiative as a futile waste of time and money. Among the critics was Goro Kaburagi, a Christian minister and editor of the Kanada Shinbun, a rival newspaper to Yamazaki’s Tairiku Nippo. READ MORE


Bronze bust of Yasushi Yamazaki, circa 20th century. Alfred Iwasaki collection, NNM 2016.

Lest we forget - Mothers and Wives

The letters, written in Japanese and translated here, are featured in Nakayama Jinshirō’s Kanadadōhōhattentaikan, which was originally published in Tokyo by the Japan Times in 1921. The letters seem to have been written to the association that was formed under the aegis of the Nipponjin-kai specifically to support Japanese soldiers who enlisted to serve in the First World War. The association appears to have informed the families of the death of soldiers in action and also featured obituaries of those who lost their lives in war in a local newspaper (presumably Tairikunippō) READ MORE


Nippon Fujinkai – Japanese Women’s Associations

Women’s associations that were organized by Japanese Canadian women in the early twentieth century were called fujinkai. Seventeen years after the arrival to Canada of the first known Japanese female immigrant, Yo Shishido, the Nippon Fujinkai was founded in Vancouver in 1904. Under Genko Nagamine’s leadership, the initial mandate of the Nippon Fujinkai was to raise funds to send relief for the bereaved families of Japanese soldiers who were killed in the Russo-Japanese war.

By 1907, the Nippon Fujinkai had over 170 women who worked tirelessly to support immigrants who came to Canada from Japan.[1] With the growth and diversification of Japanese communities and enclaves in British Columbia, there were over eight fujinkai organizations in different regions of the province in the early twentieth century. These included the fujinkai in Haney, Steveston, Ocean Falls, New Westminster, and other areas, as well as Buddhist and Christian fujinkai in Vancouver. The fujinkai groups served to bridge Japanese groups with the broader Canadian society. They also networked with different associations within the Japanese Canadian community, such as the ubiquitous prefectural associations, to address various social issues and to help settlers adapt to the new socio-cultural environment in Canada. READ MORE

The long struggle for rights

Japanese Canadians had been denied the vote in British Columbia since 1895, when a clause in the provincial elections act that barred Chinese Canadians from voting was amended to include Japanese Canadians. This clause, which denied rights to Canadian citizens on the basis of race, also kept them from the federal vote, which was determined based on the provincial voters' lists. In 1900, Tomekichi Homma challenged this law by asking his name to be placed on the provincial voters' list. When his request was turned down, he took the matter to court; both the BC Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in his favour. The provincial government appealed the ruling one more time, to the Privy Council in England, and in 1902 the Privy Council ruled in favour of the province, denying Canadians of Japanese descent the right to vote on racial grounds. READ MORE