Title: Letter from Captain V.C. Best to Hugh Keenleyside
Subject: Japanese-Canadian loyalty, citizenship and military service
Creator: Captain V.C. Best
Date: February 24, 1941 (date of sending, date of creation unknown)
Citation: Library and Archives Canada, RG25, vol. 3037, file 4166-40, Captain V.C. Best to Hugh Keenleyside, 24 February, 1941.
Resource cited in:
Loyalty of Japanese and Can-Japanese:
At the commencement of the war – the Japanese parents were anxious that their sons should serve in the Army for Canada – and advocated their doing so. At that time there was no question of Japan entering hostilities.
The Can-Japanese would have served to the limit of their powers, loyalty. They are as a race very whole-hearted – once they are prepared to undertake a measure, after due consideration, they go through with it.
Unfortunately, political agitation dealt them blow after blow to their loyalty, and this has had the result of crystallizing two mental processes.
- Adverse opinion of Canada
- Steeling them to stay loyal in spite of political persecution, and Japanese influence
The Japanese come under the heading of (1)
The Can-Japanese “ “ “ “ (2)
There exists a large majority for Canada even if Japan fights – but it must be [?] that many have been adversely influenced.
The statements made by Japanese Ambassadors and Consuls do not coincide with their true view-point – and is typical of Japanese thought which is based on the German political methods. Japanese officials have missed no opportunity to influence Japanese subjects and thought them, as parents, Can. Japanese whenever possible. There exists, however, a feeling of strong resentment to this influence among the Can-Japs as a whole – and many Japanese.
Dual Citizenship. This is a curse to the Can-Japanese, many had no idea that they had been registered, and many are getting rid of it today. But it is a difficult problem, since [?] [?] property inherited by the family is confiscated by the Japanese Gov’t in Japan if a Japanese subject (or dual citizenship) gives up the Japanese and stays Canadian. This together with a desire to “honour their parents” increases the problem.
To get a true perspective, individuality must be considered, and contact must be made with individuals.
Emphasis must be laid upon the politicians. That is the starting point of the difficulty in solving the present problem – and matters can only become worse as this political persecution is allowed to continue.
Alderman Wilson has caused incalculable harm – as, also, other politicians using the Japanese and Can-Japs as political footballs.
Apart from any other consideration, Canada has shown FEAR of the Japanese in spite of their small number of effectives – and the reflection of this may be traced in Japan and Japan’s blurff – which will become active hostility unless handled firmly.
Japanese are afraid of each other, due to national upbringing. It appears to be an impossibility for Japanese to lay their cards upon the table. Afraid that one will take advantage of the other – Can-Japanese are not afraid to do so – but connection with the parents influences to a certain extent.
Thought Police: Apparently the Japanese system of using “Thought Police” is now in full swing here. The method used is to have a T.P. go visiting – collecting as he goes all the views and opinions of those he comes in contact with. This is engineered by the Consulate – and causes fear and alarm among all classes – who realise that their thoughts and actions are registered for future reference in Japan. Can-Japanese visiting Japan may stay longer than they anticipate!!!
All Japanese and Can-Japanese are frightened of being interned – and a few words from the Federal Gov’t allaying this fear for those of proven loyalty will go far toward steadying the Can-Japanese.
Political persecution is responsible for more adverse feeling toward Canada than the possible entry of Japan into War. Had Can-Japanese been called to service in the Forces, the adverse pressure of Japan would not have influenced them.
Japan’s Policy in the Far East has revived the worst aspect of Japanese influence due to pressure from all sides.
The Commission should be prepared to make contact with leaders of all representatives among the Japanese and Can-Japanese. The following are suggested as an example: –
Loyalty } Sato
Commercial } President and two members Can.Jap.Assn.
Fishing } Hirano
Living conditions } Shimidzu (United Church)
Housing problems } Nakiyama (Anglican Church)
General information } Higashi
Interpreters: The Mc[?] Baldwins – fifty years in Japan as missionaries – returned to Canada Jan ’41.
The Commission should do more than carry on a census.
Enlistment, even at this late moment, into the Army is to be advocated in spite of dual-citizenship. Overseas service and full time soldiers. There would be some black sheep – but strict censorship of all mail would eliminate them.
No attention need be paid to the franchise – the hope exists that one day they will get it – but in the meanwhile their slogan is “do your duty – and build up for the next generation”
It is just possible that they may decide to volunteer their services directly to H.M.The King and let Canada think or do what it likes. At the moment – nebulous.
A few observations of my own: –
- Thought Police: Kobayashi, masseur, visited Saltspring under very fishy conditions. The Can.Japs here are loyal (except one) and were very R.C.M.P. notified 2/18/41.
- There is an undercurrent of unrest at Mayne Island and Chemainus.
Fear of censorship will throw the Japanese back on to the “month to month” method of conveying information or organizing for trouble. The fishermen mostly come from North Japan and are a [cultus?] lot when compared with commercial or agricultural Japanese – mostly Southerners.
Miss Withers told me how, at Prince Rupert four years ago, two commercial (!) Japanese came to Rupert ahead of the cruiser that visited, had interviews with Japanese at Rupert, appeared to frighten them – and they acted as guides for naval parties from the cruiser on pic-nics (!) up the Skeena and Nass. In case of trouble – the Japanese are known to Miss Withers, and I can get the information if – or when – needed. They are still there.
Missionaries. Refuse on spiritual grounds to lend the Government their assistance. It is time that the Bishops should have it made clear that it is to the advantage of Canada and the Can.Japanese that missionaries should be ready to use their knowledge of Japanese language and writing to supply a very serious deficiency now extant.
If it is made clear that the Military need assistance – and leave the Police out of the question – some useful results will be forthcoming. Otherwise, their potential usefulness will remain bottled.
“Unique method of warfare” referred to by Japan (Radio & press) probably one-man submarines. Neither Nazi nor Fascist seem to have produced men to try the scheme. The Japanese will – and have them.
Watch for any exodus of known fishermen to Japan by liner. These would be transferred to Japanese warships out of sight of land when hostilities break.