The Diary Part One
A Memorandum on the Events Surrounding the Liquidation of Fishing Boats Owned by Nikkei People
Table of Contents
A Memorandum on the Events Surrounding the Liquidation of Fishing Boats Owned by Nikkei People
Photographs of Fishing Boats in the Impoundment Area
Establishment of the Committee for the Liquidation of Fishing Boats
January 8, 1942:
One month after the outbreak of the Pacific War, Major J.A. Motherwell, chief supervisor of fisheries, contacted me. He urgently wanted to have a private consultation with me at the Ministry of Fisheries. He told me that the provincial government wanted to increase the food supply. They planned to promptly release impounded Nikkei fishing boats into the hands of Hakujin and Dojin fishermen so that they could go out fishing. An order-in-council was being drafted for this purpose. To facilitate the sale or rental of these boats, they were creating a special committee. A judge would be appointed as chairman, with a representative from the Ministry of Defence as another member. Mr. Motherwell was to recommend myself as a representative from the Nikkei community and urged me to accept.
The recommended sale prices for seiners and packers were clearly stated in the yearly survey report for the purpose of disaster and fire insurance. Their rental price could be easily ascertained by checking past charter contracts. However, regarding the smaller boats such as gill-netters, trollers, trawlers, and cod-fishing boats, no one placed insurance on them because insurance was limited to the total loss. Therefore, there was no price recommended in the survey report and hardly any examples of their chartering fees, making it very difficult to determine a price. So it was difficult for me to carry out my duties as a committee member.
I stated that there was a Nikkei fishermen’s organization, that Mr. Ritsu Ide had been its director for many years, and that he would be the right person for the job. The following day, on the ninth, I called Mr. Ide, and he said he had already spoken to Mr. Motherwell that morning and that he had recommended me to him. He encouraged me to accept the position, and I made it a condition that the Nikkei fishermen’s organization would support me. I promised that I would make up my mind after one day of deliberation.
I reported back to Mr. Motherwell, and he told me that the draft of the order-in-council had already been completed because of the urgency of the situation, and it would take effect on the 12th. The committee chairman and member from the Ministry of Defence had already been chosen.
Before this happened, Nikkei volunteers from Vancouver and the surrounding area had met regularly in Vancouver to discuss their wartime safety. Recalling the anti-Nikkei riots of 1907, which had occurred during peacetime, they were afraid of the current mood of the population in this time of war. There was anxiety, fear, and even hatred being directed toward them. If an incident occurred, it would be very difficult to protect women, children, and the elderly. The group had been discussing their temporary evacuation to a safe place before the threat became urgent. On the 11th of January, I visited their meeting place and summarized, to the people in the fishing industry, the conversation I had had with Mr. Motherwell. They promised to back me up whenever necessary.
Early on the morning of the 12th, there was a call from Mr. Motherwell. He persuaded me to accept the committee position, saying that both the chairman and the member from the Ministry of Defence were familiar to me.
The Appointment of Liquidation Committee Members
Order-in-Council PC 288 was announced, stating that the chairman of the committee would be Hon. Justice Sidney S. Smith, a justice at the BC Supreme Court and a full-time judge at the Marine Affairs Court. The representative from the Ministry of Defence was Commander Barney L. Johnson of the reserved forces. He volunteered to active duty and was an associate partner of Johnson Walton Steamship Ltd. Mr. Kishizo Kimura was also appointed to represent Nikkei people.
There was a phone call from Justice Smith asking me to visit him in his private room at the courthouse. The content of our conversation was as follows:
- Once the management of the committee was on track, he wanted Mr. Johnson and me to run the committee. Should any disagreement occur, he would join the discussion.
- He also said that we needed to hire someone to handle the business end of things, and he wanted me to recommend someone.
I accepted the first proposal, but regarding the second I responded that the recommendation should come from Justice Smith and then Mr. Johnson will probably accept it.
Mr. Johnson returned to Vancouver from Halifax, and on the 19th, the three of us gathered at the private courthouse room of Justice Smith for an unofficial meeting. We discussed the hiring of a deputy director. The judge recommended Mr. A.E. McMaster, the former manager of the Powell River Pulp & Paper Company, as a very able and competent person with a great personality. He also held Mr. Ginjiro Fujiwara, at Oji Paper Manufacturing Company, in high esteem. Mr. Johnson and I agreed and asked him to proceed with the hiring. We decided to have an official meeting the next day including Mr. McMaster and then discussed other necessary matters.
The Startup of the Committee.
In Justice Smith’s private courthouse quarters, the three of us, plus Mr. McMaster, held the first official committee meeting.
- We decided to name the committee “The Japanese Fishing Vessels Disposal ”
- We approved the appointment of Mr. McMaster as deputy director and left it to him to open the office, hire office workers, and do other necessary things, as well as writing a draft of the proposal.
- We established the offices in Rooms 1528, 1529, and 1530 of the Marine Building.
- Large fishing vessels (registered in the British Shipping Registry) could be easily chartered, but chartering the simply licensed small vessels would be another matter. Protecting the owners, the vessels had to be insured for total loss. (The insurance company did not issue partial insurance.) Also, to prepare for the event of partial damage, a deposit equivalent to the repair work would be required. (In order to make absolutely sure, an amount equal to the value of the vessel had to be deposited.) Also, Nikkei fishermen would be anxious about the maintenance standards of Hakujin and Dojin fishermen, and cases of dispute about the extent of deterioration of vessels would be confusing to settle. Considering these points, the committee decided in the end that small fishing vessels should be sold at market value.
(Note: If we adopt an instalment payment method, in the case of a total loss, the mortgage and insurance will kick in, and the insurance company will cover the remaining portion for the former owner. In the case of a partial loss, the insurance company will not cover it. The new owner must pay for the cost of rescue and repair. If these costs are too high, the new owner, who is unable to pay, will abandon the boat, and the former owner will possibly end up with an abandoned and damaged boat.)
- To raise office operating costs, although the amount needed was unknown, we decided to charge 1 per cent of the sale price or charter fee and pay the rest to the owner immediately.
(Note: This was enacted into law by Order-in-Council PC 987, issued on February 14. The BC Security Commission felt uneasy handing over such a huge amount of money to the fishermen, proposing instead to put the money temporarily into the hands of the Custodian, with gradual payouts to fishermen. However, it was decided eventually to pay the fishermen as the order-in-council indicated.)
- To prepare for eventual damage to the fishing boats, we would create a damage investigation organization. This to be comprised of insurance surveyors, Navy surveyors, and licensed civilians, who would be charged with making an appraisal report. They would examine the time of damage, its extent, and make a repair estimate.
- We decided to create a detailed catalogue of all the fishing boats.
- We created a Nikkei Liaison Committee to mediate between the owners and people wishing to purchase the boats. (Note: The work of this committee and the disposal committee was all on a volunteer basis.)
- We entrusted Mr. Kimura and Nikkei liaison officers with the job of making a catalogue of fishing boats (mentioned in item 7).
- To avoid mistakes and misunderstandings with media outlets, the announcement would be exclusively communicated through the deputy director.
- The committee would submit a weekly report to the minister of fisheries and an overall report when it completed its work.
After all these decisions had been made, Mr. Kimura requested the following points, with all members accepting them.
Because newspaper reports (Sun, Province, News Herald, etc.) on this matter were so brief and unclear, people had the impression that enemy Japanese fishing boats had been seized and liquidated as the spoils of war. Therefore, it was necessary to clarify the following points through the deputy director to the people hired by the committee.
- Boat owners are Nikkei Canadians or Canadian companies established, approved, and registered according to the Canadian Company Act. Also, some of the boats belong to Nikkei veterans who had volunteered in the Canadian armed forces at the time of the First World War.
- Presently, the fishing boats are impounded in an enclosed area under the control of the Ministry of the Navy. However, each owner voluntarily and lawfully entrusted their boats to the government, which ordered the impoundment of the boats by an order-in-council. Almost all the boats impounded near New Westminster were navigated there by the boat-owners from various remote places such as Skeena River, both the east and west coasts of Vancouver Island, the Fraser River, and the Port of Vancouver, following the order or request of the Ministry of the Navy.
- This has nothing to do with this committee directly, but the boats under the control of Mr. G.W. McPherson, authorized deputy of the secretary of state and/or Custodian, have not necessarily all been seized. With the exception of boats belonging to owners who violated the law and were interned, the remainder of the boats belonged, as I mentioned in item 1, to Nikkei companies whose stakeholders or owners happened to be in Japan when war broke out and were unable to return to Canada.
Requesting the Appointment of Nikkei Liaison Committee Members
The committee decided the following items:
- To request the following persons to be Nikkei Liaison Committee members:
Representing the first area of Fraser River: Mr. Unosuke Sakamoto and Mr. Mitsujiro Noguchi
Representing the second region, the Northern Fishing Area:
Mr. Kunisaburo Miwa
Representing the third area, the west coast of Vancouver Island Fishing Area: Mr. Kohei Nakai and Mr. Hideo Fukuyama
Representing the Cod Fishing Union: Mr. Matsunosuke Shinde and as a deputy representative Mr. Hideo Fukuyama
- When Liaison Committee members handle sales on behalf of the owners, a letter of attorney from the owner is required.
- The letter of attorney mentioned in item 2 shall be created by Mr. Roy Ginn, KC, and the cost shall be covered by the committee.
- In the impoundment area (Annieville Dyke Slough), a guide and a Navy barge has to be employed for the inspection of the boats. To avoid congestion, there is a need to limit the issue of inspection permits to those who have already reached some agreement with liaison personnel. However, for the inspection of canneries, a special arrangement shall be considered.
- Chief clerk, Mr. Alexander J. Martin, shall exclusively issue permits for boat inspections. Those without a permit are not allowed to go into the impoundment area.
- Vancouver Harbour officials are campaigning to convert two large fishing boats into supplemental fireboats. However, because this is not in line with the purpose of the order-in-council, it is not possible to agree to this.
Inspection of the Impoundment Area
Hearing a rumour that many fishing boats were damaged and sunk in the impounded area, three committee members went to investigate. We got onto the Navy barge from New Westminster harbour and entered the impounded area. As we embarked on the inspection, the accompanying Navy officer told us that they were not sure about the number of damaged boats because they were still investigating. They speculated that the Fraser River had frozen and pieces of drifting ice had damaged the boats and, in time, sunk them. We went around the impounded area on a barge but could not see very well because the water was very murky. Even when we tried to see the sunken boats from directly above them, all we could see was a dim exterior shape, and we could not identify the boats. Damage was not confined to the boats impounded outside; the boats in the centre were also damaged. Some of the masts were barely above water. This impoundment area was shallow, with mud shoals, and there was a rumour that the boats leaned on their sides and ran aground at low tide and were swamped at high tide. The committee requested the Navy to investigate promptly and take appropriate action.
A committee office was set up.
- “About 900 of the impounded boats are small fishing vessels. After an initial rush of sales, the committee will be stocked with hundreds of unsold boats, which they will be unable to dispose of.”
- “Nikkei fishermen are purposely pricing their boats too high,” stated by a Hakujin fisherman.
- “Nikkei fishermen are removing all the important equipment from their boats and storing it in warehouses. Fishing boats without nets are useless.” Such talk shows a complete lack of knowledge of fishing.
- “Among Nikkei fishermen, some believe that if they hold on to their boats, eventually they can get a fishing licence and go fishing again.” A newspaper article gave rise to this rumour.
It seems that these three rumours had their start either with those who attempted to lower boat prices or those who believed the lies and propaganda of anti-Nikkei fanatics.
The fourth rumour was due to a newspaper article reporting on Mr. Reid, the representative from New Westminster. He declared in the Legislature that right after the Nikkei boats were impounded by the order-in-council, some fishery companies started a campaign to re-release boats to Nikkei fishermen. He was then forced to name these companies. He explicitly named a Canadian fishing company and BC Packers. Both companies refuted Mr. Reid’s claims in the newspaper.
The committee keenly recognized the need to wipe out these misunderstandings whenever and however possible.
Making a Catalogue of Fishing Boats
The Liaison Committee, Fisherman’s Association, Fisherman’s Union, and the boat-owners together collected information to make a catalogue of the 1,037 Nikkei fishing boats. Then, office clerks at the Canadian Salt-Cod Export Company typed up forms with the necessary memos attached. The catalogue was completed much faster than expected and submitted to the committee. (See Appendix for an example from the catalogue.)
(Note: Among the 1,037 boats, those belonging to interned owners or absent owners stuck in Japan were not included. The committee has nothing to do with those boats.)
Catalogue details were as follows:
- Name of vessel
- Official number
- Naval Control Number
- Port and date of registry
- Registered gross and net tonnage
- Length, width, and depth of vessel
- Make and manufacture date of present engine; date if and when reinstalled; horsepower and knot speed
- When hull built, rebuilt
- Type of vessel (according to its use): seiner; packer; gill-netter; troller; cod fishing boat; trawler; other
- Place of operation (for example: Fraser River; Skeena River; west coast of Vancouver Island, etc.)
- Replacement value; present value; insured value; date when surveyed last
- Charter rate in 1940; chartered to…
- Charter rate in 1941; chartered to…
- Amount of mortgage, if any; mortgaged to…
- Registered owner’s name and address
- Actual owner’s name and address
The Ministry of the Navy had also created a simple catalogue of fishing boats, so we compared it with our committee’s catalogue. It seemed to be randomly put together by an assortment of people. There were many mistakes, especially relating to boats from Prince Rupert. There were mistakes with boat names and columns left blank, such as the registry number or the naval control number. Also, the forms were not unified, and typists were obviously not experienced. In some cases, the numbers weren’t in order, and the owners’ names were misspelled.
The majority of the fishing boats impounded in New Westminster were originally tied up randomly as the Nikkei owners brought them in. Under such circumstances, it was difficult to find a desired boat. Mr. McMaster pointed this out to the Navy. The Navy promised to rearrange the rows of boats according to their usage when they refloated the sunken boats.
The Navy had started to lift the sunken boats and arrange them according to their use. They said they planned to complete the job in a week. Later, we had a report that six sunken boats were rescued from the water and sent to the Celtic Shipyard.
The Navy had already requisitioned the fishing boats. Mr. McMaster reported this to the Ministry of Fisheries and inquired about their need for fishing boats. Mr. Motherwell responded to the deputy director that it would be beneficial for fishing activities if the boats were released in the following order:
- Urgent release of the majority of trolling boats for Vancouver Island
- The 75 per cent release of seiners as soon as possible
- The 25 per cent release of packers as soon as possible
- About 75 per cent of salmon gill-netting boats as soon as possible
- The rest of the packers
- The rest of salmon gill-netting boats
- Other boats
There was the following report from the Navy:
The total number of sunken boats in the impounded area was 162. Some of them had already been sent to a shipyard, and the rest of them would be sent gradually to the following shipyards: Celtic; Vancouver; Stanley Park; Wright’s; Mercer’s; Chapel Bros.; and others. The cost of repairs would be covered by the government.
(Note: By Order-in-Council PC 3737, issued on May 5, and Order-in-Council PC 6787, issued on July 31, $80,000 was estimated for this expense, and it was decided that it would be covered by war expenditure.)
The Appointment of Surveyors
Articles began appearing in newspapers stating that some fishermen considered the prices suggested by fishing boat–owners to be too high. There were inquiries from the Fisheries Institute of BC about which course of action to take when a price could not be agreed upon. At the same time, there was the need to supervise the repair of the damaged boats, to estimate fair repair prices, and to estimate boat values. In order to mediate between boat-owners and purchase applicants, the committee decided to hire two official boat appraisers and requested one civilian with knowledge of fishing boats.
- Captain Fred Clarke, surveyor, Marine Underwriters of San Francisco
- Captain John Gould, marine surveyor (Note: His specialization was steel steamships, and he did not seem to be actively involved.)
- A. Pilkey, the representative from Atlas Marine Engine Co. Ltd. (Note: Mr. Pilkey had a very good knowledge of fishing boats because he was a consultant on fishing boat engines and other equipment.)
The Navy appointed Lieutenant O.W. Phillipson, a marine engineer, to be their surveyor.
The deputy minister of fisheries, Dr. D.B. Finn, came to Vancouver and met with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Kimura, the committee members. We explained the decisions we had made and clarified the reasons behind them. Also, we pointed out that once rearrangement of the impoundment area was completed, the sale of fishing boats would be more active.
On the same day, in the conference room of the Canadian Manufacturing Association, we met with several representatives from the Fisheries Institute of BC, the deputy minister of fisheries, Dr. Finn, Mr. Motherwell, and all the committee members, including the deputy director, and explained matters similar to how we had explained them to Dr. Finn. There were fishing boats belonging to canneries, but they had been impounded because they were operated by Nikkei fishermen. The canneries wanted to ready these boats for fishing as soon as possible and asked the committee for help. We promised to negotiate on their behalf with the Navy and to take measures to release them from impoundment once the companies came up with legal papers to prove ownership. Everyone was satisfied, and the meeting was dismissed.
The Army proposed to purchase a fishing boat suitable for use as a ferry between Halifax and Sydney. We suggested they choose from among the fishing boats under the control of the Custodian of Enemy Property.
The Custodian asked our opinion about a proposal to convert large fishing boats that were under their custody to fireboats. We declined this proposition because a fishing company had already shown interest in those boats. We informed the Custodian of our intention to give priority to the fishing industry.
The Custodian of Enemy Property placed an advertisement of tender in the newspaper to open bids on fishing boats, with bidding to close on the 9th of March. We have asked the Custodian to cooperate with us on the liquidation of fishing boats, even though they are enemy property. They attached a condition on tender, limiting it to bona fide fishermen or fishing companies.
(Note: Among the 40 boats advertised, those belonging to the Nanaimo boat manufacturer, Matsuyama Shokai, were the largest in number. Besides the boats owned by absent owners, such as Mr. Masataro Mukai, Mr. Kototaro Oota, Mr. Numasaburo Yoshiaki, Mr. Kazuichi Shirai, and Mr. Genichi Kodama, there were six boats that seemed to belong to interned people.)
The Advisory Committee Regarding Requisitioned Vessels
The military began using fishing boats it had requisitioned from Hakujin and Nikkei fishermen. The government set up an advisory committee to determine rental or purchase prices and nominated the following people to receive reports and advise:
Committee chairman: Mr. Justice Sidney S. Smith of the Admiralty Court
Committee members: Captain Samuel Robinson and Mr. G.E. Housser, KC
The first trial of the Advisory Committee was held at the provincial court. By a special arrangement with Justice Smith, since it was relevant to our committee, I had a chance to observe the trial, which was a very interesting experience. (Note: At the third trial, I bore witness on behalf of a boat-owner.)
As the rearrangement of the impoundment area was making progress, the number of inspection permits increased. This week it amounted to 92 permits, with 165 people inspecting the boats. If this trend was to continue, our committee’s surveyor would not be able to use the Navy’s boats at all. So we asked Mr. Pilkey to select three or four boats from the impounded ones, conduct a survey of the boats, and prepare a detailed list of their equipment in order to make them ready for use, if necessary.
Mr. Morehouse, the local manager of BC Packers, showed his interest in a few boats impounded in Namu. We told him that if he contacted the committee with the names of the boats of interest and his offer, the Liaison Committee members would negotiate with the owners and, under certain circumstances, act on behalf of the owners.
There was a report from the Navy that they had lifted 162 sunken boats and sent most of them to shipyards for repair. They also planned to gradually send the rest of them for repair. They had completed the rearrangement of the boats and would start an hourly regular ferry service, with guides, capable of handling an average of 80 people a day.
The Announcement of the Removal of All Nikkei People
The BC Security Commission announced that by Order-in-Council PC 1665 promulgated yesterday, on the fourth of the month, all people holding Japanese nationality would be removed as soon as possible from coastal areas designated as defence regions.
The Security Commission consisted of the following members:
Chairman: Mr. Austin C. Taylor
Commissioner: F.J. Mead, RCMP
Assistant Commissioner: John Shirras, BC Provincial Police
Also, the following 18 people were appointed as advisors to the Security Commission:
Hon. R.L. Maitland: former attorney general (Vancouver)
Hon. George S. Pearson: BC minister of labour and director of fishing (Vancouver)
Mr. Halbert E. Winch: MLA (Vancouver)
Captain M.C. Robinson: retired Navy captain (Vancouver)
Major Hamish Hamilton: retired Army major (Vancouver)
Dr. Lyall Hodgins (Vancouver)
General J.A. Clark: retired Army general (Vancouver)
Mr. M. Lyall Fraser (Vancouver)
Mr. Wendell D. Farris: KC (Vancouver)
Mr. A.N. Darlington (Vancouver)
Captain T.M. Harnett: Vancouver police commissioner, retired Army captain (Vancouver)
General Alexander: retired Army general (Vancouver)
Commodore Stevenson: retired Navy major general (Victoria)
Commodore W.J.R. Beach: Navy major general, commander of the Military District of Victoria
Mr. R.H.D. Kerr (Victoria)
Mr. W.M. Mott: New Westminster alderman
Mr. J. McKinnon (Mission)
Mr. R.G. Rutherford (Kelowna)
It happened that not only naturalized Nikkei people but Nisei who were born in Canada also were forced to move as soon as preparations were completed. Through the RCMP, I made an arrangement to postpone the removal of Liaison Committee members until the liquidation of fishing boats was almost complete.
For the four days between March 2 (Monday) and today, the committee issued 122 survey permits, and 258 people have been surveyed.
The Custodian published a notification for Nikkei people, as a protective measure, to report all property to them except that which they could carry with them when they were relocated (except fishing boats, savings, stocks, bonds, and security certificates). Because of this, I assumed that the time for removal of all Nikkei people would be imminent, so:
- I requested Liaison Committee members to obtain letters of attorney from as many boat-owners as possible so they could act on their behalf.
- Young men tended to be moved first, leaving family members behind. There was a case where a negotiation had concluded after the owner’s removal. I requested Liaison Committee members from now on to advise owners to appoint someone to whom payment would be made, for example, a wife, father, or mother. Also, owners should submit request letters for payment, following a certain format.
Committee Decision Regarding Difficult Contracts.
A Canadian fishing company was negotiating with a Nikkei salt-cod company about the sale of five seiners, but they were unable to reach an agreement. They eventually requested the committee to make a settlement. For the committee, this was their first settlement proposal, and the deal was finally concluded as a result of going through the process stated below. (Note: The price is the total price of the five vessels.)
The catalogue price put forward by the owner of the vessels was $45,550. The corrected owner’s price was $38,600.
The final price suggested by the applicant for purchase was $34,500.
Evaluation by the surveyor, Mr. Clarke, $33,450.
Evaluation by the surveyor, Mr. Pilkey, $35,126.
The price settled on was $35,065.
(Note: Looking back on the negotiation process, it could be summed up that it was caused by the opposing positions of seller and buyer, with a classic high price followed by a low offer. The fact was, the owners were considering the operation value of the boats and generally came up with numbers based on insured value, which was replacement value, a half of the building cost plus the actual value. On the other side, the purchasers naturally considered the actual value to be the building cost minus depreciation, which was subtracted by some percentage every year. If we apply a compounded depreciation rate of 7.5 per cent [in the case of an income tax return, the official depreciation rate allowed for wooden boats was within 15 per cent], at the end of the first year the price of the boat would be 92.50 per cent of the building cost. If we take another 7.5 per cent from this number, at the end of the second year the price of the boat would be 85.60 per cent. If we follow this formula every year, by the end of nine years it would be about 50 per cent of value and by the end of 18 years the price would be 25 per cent and about 12 per cent at the end of 27 years. [If the owner repairs the boat, the cost would be added to the total cost and the depreciation would be subtracted from there.] The life of a fishing boat varies depending on the way it is being operated or maintained, but let us suppose it is 27 years for the sake of debate, and then let’s recap the above. In the first nine years, the owner recovers half of the building costs, but in the next nine years, only 25 per cent will be recovered, and in the next nine years, a mere 12.5 per cent will be recouped. Furthermore, for these later years, the owner has to anticipate a substantial amount for repairs.)
The owner of the boat and the purchaser had to compromise in each case to make a deal, but it seems that in general the newer boats fetched higher prices, while the older boats brought lower than the surveyed price.
The Navy had already requisitioned and utilized several large fishing boats belonging to Hakujin and Nikkei fisherman. This time, the Air Force and an office of the Army requested the requisition of eight small packers or trolling boats. They had special requirements about the structure of the boats, the speed and make of the engines. We requested that Mr. Pilkey carefully select and survey ten boats to begin with.
Furthermore, the British Admiralty Technical Mission (BATM) in Ottawa proposed to requisition about 20 middle-sized diesel engine packers with lower cabins and low draft and less than 10 feet width. We also asked Mr. Pilkey to select and survey these.
Mr. Pilkey reported that he had already selected the boats requested on the 14th , had separated them from the others, and would start the survey.
A newspaper article stated that Mr. Reid, the elected representative from New Westminster, was going to question the minister of fisheries about the discrepancy between the catalogue price and the actual agreed upon prices of impounded Nikkei fishing boats. So we included the following chart in our weekly report to the minister.
- The boats we have sold up until today were as follows:
Seiners 26 boats $196,061
Trollers 10 boats $ 20,775
Gill-netters 76 boats $ 53,322
Packers 31 boats $ 81,689
Others 5 boats $ 9,235
Total 148 boats $362,082
- The actual sale price of the small fishing boats was 25.8 per cent lower than the listed catalogue price.
Surveying of the fishing boats was increasingly busy, and Mr. Gould was busy with his own survey of steamboats, so we hired Mr. W.F. Spring, a marine surveyor, as an additional surveyor.
We placed a newspaper advertisement on February 10 concerning the liquidation of fishing boats but at the time, the Navy had a complex method of showing the boats. They looked for specific boats and towed them, one by one, to the New Westminster docks to be surveyed. If the buyer wanted to see other boats, he had to check the committee’s catalogue again, talk to the Liaison Committee, obtain a permit again, and come back to New Westminster to survey the actual boat. It was not only time-consuming but also expensive for the buyer. We heard rumours criticizing the committee and the Navy for the complex and repetitious bureaucratic process preventing sales. It was true that the process was complex, but in the beginning, the Navy took an especially responsible and careful attitude, worrying about theft or damage to the boats. Now that the impoundment area had been rearranged and organized more efficiently, we placed another advertisement. In the ad, we made it clear that we could arrange a reasonable way of reaching a settlement in case the buyer could not reach an agreement with the owner.
We surveyed 20 middle-sized special boats the BATM had applied to purchase on March 14 and found that 15 of them required fine-tuned adjustments of their engines. We sent them to the corresponding engine manufacturers or factories.
The Peak of the Fishing-Boat Sale
The number of boats disposed of, up until and including today, is as follows:
- Sold 540 boats
- Requisitioned 59 boats
- Released to registered owners 144 boats
- Total 743 boats
Seiners 49 boats
Trollers 39 boats
Gill-netters 497 boats
Packers 107 boats
Cod fishing & others 51 boats
Total 743 boats
The Navy informed us that they want to remove the guard duty on the marine impoundment area at month’s end. The sale of the small boats is inactive, and there is some criticism concerning the committee’s sale methods. They say that the committee’s full cash payment method is inconsiderate toward small, individual fishermen with limited funds. Many canneries are providing an interest-free instalment plan.
For canneries, fishing is a vital resource, and they were providing generous deals only to experienced and proven fishermen based on many years’ records. Our committee cannot do the same. Also, because of the above discussed reasons, there was little scope to make deals by changing the method of payment. However, to counter the criticism, and thinking there might be a limited number of deals possible, we came up with the following method and advertised it.
- One third of the sale price shall be paid in cash.
- The remaining two-thirds will be mortgaged at an annual interest rate of 7 per cent.
- Insurance must be obtained to secure the total loss to the former owner.
- The Montreal Trust Company shall represent the person who sets the mortgage (a former owner) and, at 5 per cent commission, demand payment. The commission fee shall be covered by the former owner.
We also advertised a minimum “suggested negotiation price,” which was displayed on all the remaining fishing boats in the catalogue. We made it known that our committee was capable of making deals on purchase offers if they were above these prices.
(Note: There was not a single case of a deal through the instalment method. After all, this was just to counter criticism. However, through the suggested price method, about 153 boats were quickly sold without the owner’s consent. From among them, 136 boat-owners consented after the deal was done and received payment. The other 16 cases, including the issue of payment, were entrusted to the Custodian’s department.)
The sale total was $72,031, and the estimated price total was $60,000. That is to say, we sold the boats for 20 per cent more than the surveyor’s estimate.)
Regarding the BATM requisition order of 20 boats, three were already outfitted and on their way to Halifax by train, and another four were ready for shipping. The committee is pressuring the rest of them for early completion. All these boats are heading to England by ship to engage in minesweeping activities at sea.
Within a week, we sold 75 fishing boats, which saturated the demand from the fishing industry. Therefore, the committee sent a telegram to the minister of fisheries asking whether we should stay on course by concentrating on the fishing industry or if we should begin to open up the boats to more general demand.
The minister of fisheries responded by telegram saying that he wished us to come up with the best way to dispose of the remaining fishing boats as soon as possible. He wanted to decide the liquidation strategy after careful deliberation based on a more detailed report and advice from the committee.
Releasing the Boats to General Demand
We explained to the minister that by opening up the remaining boats to general demand, we can possibly stimulate business in the fishing industry where the demand seemed to be slowing down. The minister approved our strategy.
We advertised the fishing boats to be released for general use.
(Note: Because gasoline rationing was in effect, this strategy did not accomplish much, and only a few boats were sold for logging tenders, but it somewhat stimulated demand in the fishing industry.)
It is impossible to complete a reasonable sale of all remaining small fishing boats by the end of the month. To resort to a bargain sale would not only be unfair to the boat-owners but also to recent boat purchasers. We drafted the following policy for quick instatement before the Navy removed its guard duty.
- Allocate a number of small fishing boats to canneries, according to the proportion of their past purchases, and entrust them with certain conditions of guarantee.
- The entrusted companies will be responsible for boat maintenance and must register $50 a year, per boat, on the owner’s debt account.
- Entrusted companies are allowed to use the boats as much as necessary during fishing season based on a daily charter basis and must register the fee on the credit account of the owners.
- This debt and credit account shall be settled when the boats are returned to the owners after the war.
- During the entrusted period, the entrusted companies have the option to purchase, but the sale shall be based on the estimated price of the boats.
Fishing Boats Disposed of in this Manner:
Small seiners 5 boats
Small packers 25 boats
Trollers 67 boats
Gill-netters 173 boats
Cod-fishing and others boats 30 boats
Total 300 boats
We shall allot these boats to the cannery companies according to the proportion of their purchases and consult with them over details of the plan.
By the order of the Navy, suddenly Mr. Johnson has to go east tomorrow for his new assignment. It was arranged that he still keep his position in the committee and shall be consulted about important matters.
(Note: I considered a send-off party for him but changed my mind and instead organized a thank-you party in Yoshino restaurant for all the committee members, the deputy director, Nikkei Liaison Committee members, and office staff. We had been tense with logistical discussions in the office for days, but we were all relaxed there and had pleasant chats.)
Because the Navy wanted to remove their guard duty from the impoundment area as soon as possible, we changed our drafted plan of using lots of canneries and focused on companies with facilities. We decided the following:
- To allocate about 300 small fishing boats to each cannery, according to the ratio of purchased boats, and request the cannery to store the boats at $50 annually per boat.
- The cannery shall make an arrangement to ensure that the sale of the boats be resumed when the committee or some other organization is brought into being in the future.
We asked the canneries for their cooperation with this policy.
A letter, dated on the 15th, from Mr. Finn, the deputy minister, told us to come up with alternative guarding plans for the remaining fishing boats or, if impossible, to dispose of them all before June 30 when the Navy removes its guard.
We shipped five boats on a requisition order from the BATM.
The inquiry dated the 15th came from Mr. Mitsujiro Noguchi, the director of the Fishermen’s Association in the first district, regarding “Fishing boats sold without owner’s consent” (the so-called forced sales).
I asked the deputy director to explain at length and to their satisfaction the background and circumstances, as well as the results of the sales, etc.
The canneries were not interested in the plan, drafted on May 28, of entrusting the fishing boats to them. They showed interest in the storage plan, drafted on June 14, and discussed a method of storing the boats collectively. In the end, they decided against it, it being difficult to share the responsibility. However, they said they would help us by stimulating boat purchases.
We must decide quickly how to safely store the remaining fishing boats after the Navy removes their guards.
- Ask a minimum number of marines to stay
- Place under the Custodian’s supervision
- RCMP’s supervision
- Ministry of Fisheries’ supervision
- Place under private company’s control
To investigate these possibilities, we started meeting with Mr. Motherwell, the chief supervisor of fisheries, Col. C.H. Hill, the divisional commander of the RCMP, and Mr. McPherson.
Colonel Hill issued a command from Ottawa to transfer guard duty of the marine impoundment area into the hands of the RCMP. All other duties, including maintenance, shall be under the control of the Ministry of Fisheries. We felt that divided responsibility tends to give rise to inconvenience and conflict and requested a wait until our committee could come up with an alternative plan.
After several meetings with Mr. Motherwell, Col. Hill, and Mr. McPherson, the committee pointed out to the minister of fisheries that apart from protecting the fishing boats from water damage, fire damage, burglary and maintaining the boats, there were other manual and administrative tasks required. These were: surveying; checking boat equipment; removing claims against the Navy; making sale-related documents at sale completion; and the actual handing over of boats. Since the Custodian is an established office within the Department of the Secretary of State and already holds several fishing boats under its control, as well as all the property owned by Nikkei people, it is proper to move the remaining fishing boats under its control. Also, we recommended the temporary transfer of our committee staff, experienced as they are with matters pertaining to fishing boats, to the Custodian’s office for the sake of administrative continuity. This would also save the trouble of hiring new staff. We recommended this proposition in a detailed report at a meeting with Mr. McPherson.
We also made it clear that we will collaborate as much as possible with the RCMP and the Ministry of Fisheries as long as the command of Col. Hill stands.
An Army section applied to requisition eight small fishing boats on March 14, and we have been preparing them. Today, July 2, they officially requisitioned 10 boats.
We proposed to transfer the task of the protection and management of the remaining 217 fishing boats in the New Westminster marine impoundment area to various governmental departments, but they all had a mountain of work in front of them, and none of them could take over the task. Our committee looked into the possibility of continuing to handle them ourselves.
We estimated that we needed about $3,000 a month for the salaries of guards who would replace the present Navy guards and for various expenses in the impoundment area. However, if present sale trends continue for two weeks, the number of boats will decrease to the point where we can store them on land. Then we might be able to proceed with a budget of just $1,000 a month. We communicated this idea to the deputy minister of fisheries.
We also decided, withdrawing our past allocation plan, to ask the three largest canneries to reconsider and take any number of fishing boats on either an entrusting or a storage basis. In case this plan does not work, we are also looking for a company with storage facility on land and will check the possibility of just storing the boats there.
The removal of Nikkei people gathered momentum, and contact with boat-owners became more difficult and slow. On the other hand, we faced increasing pressure from the Navy, who wanted to remove their guards from the impoundment area. Under these circumstances, the number of boats sold without owner consent amounted to 154 boats (see page 14, lines 9-15). To normalize these sales, we decided to send letters to the owners explaining the situation and asking them to sign the sale contracts as soon as possible. We also promised the immediate settlement of the account upon completion of the sale.
The remaining five boats requisitioned by the BATM are ready to be shipped.
The Custodian moved 20 boats under their control from New Westminster to the North Arm of Bedwell Bay in Burrard Inlet.
Negotiations with the canneries concerning the entrusting or storing of fishing boats is going well. Therefore, while the companies are selecting boats to avoid confusion, we temporarily stopped issuing survey permits as well as conducting boat sales.
The acting deputy minister of fisheries, Mr. A.J. Whitmore, sent a telegram informing us that they have decided to transfer the remaining boats, as well as the remaining committee duties, to the Custodian at the end of the month. Therefore, when a negotiation with canneries about entrusting or storing the boats reaches an agreement, the effective date of the contract shall be after August 1. This is to give the Custodian responsibility for the official contract, with consideration for possible future boat sales.
The BATM purchased the first requisitioned boat for its estimated price at the time of requisition. We received a report that the Navy as well as the Air Force decided to purchase the requisitioned boats at the original survey price. The other requisitioned boats were all remodelled, so it is assumed that all of them will be purchased.
The Transfer of Remaining Boats
The deputy minister of fisheries wrote to us that by the Order-in-Council PC 6247, issued on July 20, all the remaining boats will be transferred to the protection and control of the Custodian. The deputy minister heard that the Custodian was aware of negotiations the committee was now engaged in with the canneries. He also asks the committee to complete its remaining work as soon as possible to save costs. However, he expected the committee to come up with a comprehensive report listing various procedures, actions taken, and their results. At the same time, the minister of fisheries sent us a thank-you letter.
The transfer of the control of Nikkei fishing boats to the Office of the Custodian progressed smoothly. The surveyors from the Navy and the Custodian were assessing the condition of the remaining boats together. The Custodian will use the same impoundment area until they find another location. The remaining five boats requisitioned to the BATM were shipped. This makes 20 vessels in total that have been sent to them.
The Expense of Moving the Fishing Boats
Immediately after the Naval Order to Impound Nikkei Fishing Boats was announced, many owners delivered their boats to Steveston from various places in BC and made their way home. We were aware of the issue of compensation for costs incurred delivering the boats, but Order-in-Council PC 288 did not authorize the committee to handle this issue. However, we considered that if we submitted the issue to the Navy, unofficially, though an immediate solution may be unlikely, there might be a way to solve the issue from a different perspective once the Custodian took over the committee’s remaining tasks. So we estimated the minimum cost of boat delivery and a trip home and prepared the following chart.
- From Skeena River to Prince Rupert $5 each—48 cases
- From Prince Rupert to Steveston $50.25 each—48 cases
- From Ucluelet or Bamfield to Steveston $12.15 each—64 cases
- From Tofino or Clayoquot to Steveston $21.75 each—28 cases
- From Victoria to Steveston $9.70 each—6 cases
- From the Deep Bay area to Steveston $14.45 each—8 cases
- From the Nanaimo area and Galiano Island
to Steveston $10.35 each—35 cases
- From Chemainus to Steveston $10.35 each—5 cases
- From Kosiaski Cove to Steveston fee unclear—8 cases
(Note: Due to the removal of the Nikkei owners, we did not have chance to talk with many of them. However, we put together this request, thinking that even a small number of claims will prove that the owners accepted the order or request from the Navy.)
Regarding entrusting or storage of the boats, collaboration with the canneries was disappointing, and only Nelson Brothers Fishery Company agreed to keep 52 boats. Therefore, there were 97 boats remaining in New Westminster.
The committee reported on August 1 to the Ministry of Fisheries concerning travel expense compensation for Nikkei boat-owners. Today we requested Commodore W.J.R. Beech, the Pacific Coast commanding officer in Esquimalt, to advise the related parties on compensation.
Protection and management of the remaining fishing boats in New Westminster and Prince Rupert (Tuck’s Inlet) was finally transferred from the Navy to the Custodian.
There was a communication from the deputy minister of fisheries, Mr. Whitmore: “Regarding compensation for expenses incurred by Nikkei owners navigating their boats, stated in your letter of August 1st, because this matter is totally different from compensation for the damage of fishing boats during impoundment, it is considered to be outside the business of the Committee (namely, an excess of authority). I have not received a report from the Commodore of the Pacific Coast Naval Office, so I cannot give a decisive opinion, but apparently, it seems that it is part of expenses caused by the enforcement of the Vessel Impoundment Law. Accordingly, in case this view is correct, I would pass on the Committee’s intention to the Navy.”
From Commodore Beech, there was a response issued on the eighth, whose contents are stated below:
“When the fishing boats owned by Nikkei people were locked in the marine impoundment area, there was of course, no Order for the Removal of Nikkei people, so the owners of boats went home. Thus the reasonable expenses stated in your proposal are naturally meant to be paid to the boat owners. According to the Order issued on December 10th, 1941 (attached), from the commanding office regarding this matter, I think it is reasonable to consider that the RCMP is responsible for the compensation of the incurred expenses.”
Attached: An overview of the order:
0038 z/10 the matter of protection of fishing vessels owned by Nikkei people:
- As soon as all vessels are gathered at the designated gathering point, the engine of each small fishing vessel should be locked, and the captains should board the few large fishing vessels able to tow 5–10 of these vessels, and tow them to Steveston under the protection of the F/R ship.
- Have all Nikkei people disembarked at Steveston, and have them stay at Nikkei homes there. If necessary, build temporary housing. This area is already under the protection of a unit dispatched near the area. All fishing vessels must be impounded in appropriate flat, shallow water about 10 miles upstream, and be protected by guards sent from headquarters.
- The most appropriate twenty boats from among these vessels will be requisitioned and chartered. Charter fee at market price should eventually be paid to the owners. If these twenty vessels are utilized, it will be enough for patrolling.
- In the case of these vessels being owned by Japanese nationals, the boats would be the spoils of war.
- The Navy’s responsibility toward Nikkei crews will be finished upon their landing in Steveston, and they will be under the control of the RCMP, according to an arrangement. The crews cannot land until preparation by the RCMP is complete.
(Note: An article similar to the overview above was printed in newspapers at the time. One newspaper praised the well-planned government preparations for the mass landing of Nikkei people. Another newspaper report emphasized the protection of Nikkei people. Even reports that “Japanese crews will be locked in, at temporary housing,” appeared in some papers. These reports had the effect of calming down citizens’ minds, preventing misplaced war hysteria. Also, considering the result, careful efforts by the government could be inferred.)
(Note: Following a similar method, stated in the first section of the Navy order, boats were towed from Prince Rupert. This was limited to boats fit for navigating the Skeena River during winter. Moreover, when these boats reached the Queen Charlotte Islands (situated north of Vancouver Island), the waves were very high, and it was difficult to tow. The boats would be damaged if they were towed, so the majority of boats navigated southward independently, from various places, to Steveston.
With a copy of communication from the Navy, as well as the above order, the committee requested Commodore Hill of the RCMP to consider this matter. He responded that he felt the order merely indicated who was responsible for the protection of the Nikkei crews. We concluded that there seemed to be no other way than transferring this matter to the Office of the Custodian and having them make a proper arrangement.
The BATM informed us of their decision to pay the evaluation price for the 19 remaining requisitioned boats.
There was an application from the Air Force requesting to purchase all six requisitioned boats, according to their evaluation by Lloyd’s of London. It was approved by the committee.
The Navy also decided to purchase 27 requisitioned boats. They requested the committee to obtain permission from the owners, using Lloyd’s of London’s evaluation price, as the Air Force had done.
Mr. Pilkey resigned at the end of May, but the committee removed other surveyors from their position today. We are also going to gradually decrease the number of administrative clerks.
During negotiations over the purchase of boats requisitioned by the Navy, a Nikkei owner of three requisitioned boats demanded a charter fee be paid for a period beyond the setting of the sale price. The Navy insisted that it was not going to pay a charter fee at all because it was going to purchase boats based on the price evaluated by Lloyd’s of London. The Navy said that the owner had agreed to this at the meeting of inquiry held by the Advisory Committee at the time of requisition. By the way, the matter of requisitioned boats involves not just Nikkei owners but Hakujin boat-owners as well, so the Navy gives uniform terms on purchases, and if an owner refuses to accept these terms, the Navy will continue to argue until a judgment by the Court of the Exchequer in England. Therefore, considering the cost and time involved with a lawsuit, the Nikkei owner decided to take the amount offered.
A month has already passed since the impoundment area was transferred to the Office of the Custodian.
Because the majority of Nikkei boat-owners have been relocated to various places, all negotiations for the purchase of requisitioned boats have had to be done by mail. Things are very slow and do not progress smoothly.
The Custodian wants to take over after the committee is near completion of its administrative tasks, so we are trying to arrange the purchase of the requisitioned boats mentioned above, but even if business negotiations are agreed upon, they are different from private sales, and we must:
- Complete the procedure for transferring vessel registry
- Send the new vessel registry and the bill to the government
- Receive payment and settle the account with the owner
- Receive a receipt from the owner and submit the receipt to the government
Thus, the task requires many complicated procedures and time-consuming negotiations. Accordingly, the matters the committee has to communicate to government and the owners increase. So, the committee is very busy with various complicated office procedures.
Also, regarding the matter of compensation by the Navy, besides expenses for damage repairs, cases include such details as spark plugs, engine parts, nets, anchors, compasses, and other ship parts. These amount to 700 cases in total, and we must create separate paperwork for each boat. After getting approval from the Navy, we get paid through a war expenditure account via the Ministry of Fisheries. We settle cases individually, prepare receipts, and send these to the government. Despite all of this, the committee has cut the number of staff, so the completion of the committee’s administrative tasks remains far in the future.
Twenty boats were requisitioned by the BATM (These boats have been sent to Britain), and 43 boats were requisitioned altogether by the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force, making the requisitioned boats 63 in total, all being negotiated for purchase. (However, the committee has not received an official request regarding the 10 vessels requisitioned by the Army, but the committee did receive an unofficial request.)
For approximately half the boats mentioned above, the committee had owner approval and is completing the documents of sale.
Negotiations regarding the BATM’s offer to purchase progressed. The committee obtained 17 owner approvals and completed the documents of sale. The sales contracts for a remaining three boats are also going to be agreed upon soon.
The committee obtained signatures from boat-owners on 28 Navy and Air Force sale contracts. Negotiations for two boats requested by the BATM were settled; consequently, there is just one unsettled case.
The Army officially requested to purchase 10 requisitioned boats.
The Custodian reported to the committee that due to the late-comer salmon gathered in mass in the Fraser River, they have sold 43 boats from the 1st of August up until today. The Custodian sent six additional boats for safekeeping, under special conditions, to the Nelson Brothers Fishery Company.
It was decided that Mr. S.V. Roberts, supervising treasury officer, would start inspection of the committee accounts as its appointed chief.
The committee had one administrative clerk handling procedures for damaged fishing vessels transferred to the office of the Custodian. Negotiations regarding the Army, Navy, and Air Force moved forward, and the committee received approval from about 80 per cent of boat-owners.
Transferring the Committee’s Remaining Tasks to the Custodian
Inspection of the account began on the 22nd, and it was decided that all committee tasks would be transferred to the Custodian after its completion.
The sale of requisitioned boats is progressing smoothly, with completion in sight. Among 152 small boats sold without the owner’s permission, the so-called forced, 16 of those cases remain unsettled. The committee will transfer several procedures to the Custodian: boat registry, claims against the Navy if necessary, and money from sales, amounting to $8,000. On reflection, things were thought to be much simplified if the committee were to complete the transferral of boat registries, then transfer sale amounts to the Custodian. The Custodian preferred this option, and with its authority signed the document transferring boat registries on behalf of the owners.
The removal of all Nikkei people from the coast is nearing completion, and it was decided that, after today, any Nikkei people remaining in the Coastal Defence Region without permission from the RCMP will be detained.
Although there was an offer from the RCMP to issue a permit for me to stay, I declined their offer. I could not have my wife, and especially my young children, reside in a Vancouver where they could not even go to school. It would also be very sad for the family to leave Vancouver by themselves, so for the time being, we have all moved to Christina Lake (PO Box Cascade), joining those who have come before us.
I visited Vancouver on November 17 and helped to organize the remaining tasks. Negotiations on boats with ties to the military were settled, and a comprehensive report to the minister of fisheries was completed.
Various records were organized, and necessary records on individual boats were reorganized after the inspection of accounts, and all of them were made ready for transferral to the Custodian.
On December 23, I finally said my good-byes and returned home to Christina Lake.
Following are the main statistics:
The Fishing Boats Dealt with by the Committee
- Boats sold Number of vessels Sales amount
Seiners 67 $455,256
Packers 121 $393,948.60
Trollers 69 $109,590
Gill-netters 632 $397,838.99
Cod-fishing, trawlers,and other boats 61 $49,422.30
Small pleasure boats, fishing boats, barges $326
Fishing tools, boats parts, scows for camping $16,800
Total 950 $1,423,181.89
- Boats released to the registered owners
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 40
Total number of released boats 200
- Boats transferred to the Custodian Number of vessels
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 41
Total number of transferred boats 187
(The above total includes 52 boats kept by the Nelson Brothers Fishery Company)
- The breakdown of sold, released, and transferred boats
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 142
(Note: Boats of absent and interned owners, under the custody of the Custodian, were also required to receive approval from the committee. Therefore, the above total number includes these boats. The true number of boats owned by Nikkei people in the registry was 1,137 boats, that being the difference after subtracting the 200 boats released to the registered owners from the total number. We assumed that a substantial number of released boats had sale contracts with Nikkei people yet had only made partial payment. Therefore, ownership had not yet been transferred. Approximately 130 applications for release of boats were in place by April 1 (10 among them with applications filed on that day), but the applications of the other 70 boats were delayed until September 24 (which is the end of the fishing season). The applications dribbled in as little as one to three boats every week, so we cannot say for sure, but we assumed that the slowness was because they had to apply for release when they had settled accounts with Nikkei buyers. If our assumption was correct, we can say that at least 70 fishing boats were semi-owned by Nikkei people.
The Breakdown of the Buyers
- Canneries, fishery companies Number of vessels Amount
Seiners 42 $236,896
Packers 74 $163,134
Trollers 18 $27,750
Gill-netters 507 $323,036.99
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 19 $14,146.30
Total 660 $764,963.29
- Individual fishermen and the general public
Seiners 11 $64,900
Packers 20 $50,789.60
Trollers 39 $47,550
Gill-netters 118 $64,552
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 39 $28,776
Total 227 $356,567.60
- The BATM (see page 12, lines 11–14)
Packers 16 $58,345
Trollers 3 $8,420
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 1 $3,650
Total 20 $70,315
- Canadian Navy
Seiners 14 $153,460
Packers 8 $102,580
Trollers 2 $6,600
Gill-netters 2 $3,250
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 1 $1,800
Total 27 $267,690
- Canadian Air Force
Packers 3 $19,200
Trollers 3 $10,800
Total 6 $30,000
- Canadian Army
Trollers 4 $8,470
Gill-netters 5 $7,000
Cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and other boats 1 $1,050
Total 10 $16,520
- Canneries, fishery companies
Fishing tools, boat parts, and scows for camping, etc. $16,800
- Individual fishermen and the general public
Small pleasure boats, fishing boats, lighters (barges) $326
Grand Total 950 $1,423,181.89
(Note: We assumed that the majority of small fishing boats sold to canneries and fishery companies were resold to individual fishermen.
Among the items “cod-fishing boats, trawlers, and others boats” sold to individual fishermen, five “log-tender boats” are included.
Among the boats sold to the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force, 15 boats were presumably resold after the war as surplus war supplies by a bidding process through the War Assets Corporation. We assume that there were other boats disposed of in the same manner.)
February 1942 46 $124,729.85
March 256 $401,575.39
April 238 $202,046
May 136 $133,243
June 120 $73,150
July 58 $30,698
August 41 $ 123,269
September 7 $12,661.65
October 29 $236,723
November 19 $85,095
Total 950 $1,423,181.89
(Note: The increases in October and November were caused by the sales of requisitioned boats. The total amount includes sales of fishing tools, boats parts, and scows for camping, small pleasure boats, fishing boats, and lighters, etc.)
The Age of Vessels
The Age of Vessels Number of Vessels Percentage of Total
From 1–3 years 210 18.8%
From 4–6 years 209 18.3%
From 7–9 years 157 13.8%
From 10–12 years 236 20.7%
From 13–15 years 175 15.3%
From 16–18 years 60 5.2%
From 19–21 years 44 3.9%
From 22–24 years 34 3.0%
25 years and older 16 1.4%
Total 1,141 100%
(Note: The ages of the boats shown above are all based on the date of manufacture reported by the owners, with repairs not considered. This record is not cross-checked with the registry of boats. Also, boats with unreported ages were not included. On the other hand, the record includes a small number of boats that were considered to be owned by Nikkei people in the early stages of the impoundment order and were later released to registered owners.)
Cases of Compensation for Damages
Number of vessels Amounts
- Expense for shipyard repairs 264 $55,191.69
- Total loss: compensation 15 $6,833.12
- The same as above (unsettled) 4 (unsettled, amount unknown)
- General compensation 400 $27,270.69
Total 683 $89,295.50
(Note: Apart from boats damaged and sunk by drifting ice, there were many other boats damaged because, under emergency circumstances, the Navy had to impound and lock them up in a very short period of time without proper preparation. As stated above, there were as many as 264 boats in total waiting for repairs at the shipyards. Nineteen boats were considered to be a total loss, with compensation paid to the owners of 15 of them after negotiations and price evaluations. However, price agreements could not be reached for four remaining boats, and these cases were transferred, unsettled, to the Custodian. General compensation is the expense required to replace missing boat parts and fishing tools. When the remaining boats were transferred to the Custodian from the Navy, except for the four boats mentioned above, surveyors from both sides surveyed the boats and removed all naval culpability for damages.)
The General Accounts Report
Commission (1% of sales amount) $14,231.81
Collected survey fees $2,427
Wages (clerks and surveyors) $15,937.41
(Rent and all other office expenses). $5,576.79
Travel expenses and car allowance $952.08
Expenses for legal matters,
advertising, management, etc. $2,447.21
Balance due $8,254.68
(Note: Although committee members, the deputy director, and Liaison Committee members are all volunteers, the account showed a loss, which was covered by the Ministry of Fisheries. This account includes large expenses for surveyors and related expenses not expected at the time the committee was established, namely:
- Expenses for managing damage compensation and general losses: $ 7,655.04
- Expenses for purchasing the BATM vessels (the amount of net loss subtracting the commission): $1,748.66
Accordingly, if there was no expense for these two matters, the committee account could be covered by the 1 per cent boat sale commissions.
The Number of Cases Investigated by Surveyors
- Checking for damages and estimating the cost of repairs 727 cases
- Estimating the value of boats 927 cases
Total 1,654 cases
The Number of People Who Looked at the Boats
Viewing permission was issued to 3,862 people between January 28 and July 15.
(Note: The committee issued blank permits, or permits without specifying the number of people looking at the boats, to canneries and fishery companies. Our assumption of two people per permit is modest, and we assume that the number of people who actually saw the boats far exceeds this number.)
Unusual and Exceptional Cases
- The Case of Mr. I
Not long after we established the committee office, an old man we will call Mr. I came to call. He said, “A very kind man is willing to buy my boat, and I want the committee to approve this deal.” I checked the catalogue but could not find anything to match the boat, so I questioned him further. Mr. I replied, “In order to receive my pension [or allowance?], I registered my boat with the government as my sole property and didn’t report it to the committee. When I receive the $400 boat payment, I would like to give that money to the Compensation Board.” It happened that Mr. Pilkey came along, so I asked him what he thought about the price of the boat. He replied that it was hard to estimate the price of any boat without actually seeing it, but Mr. I was an old man and would not operate the boat in a reckless manner; consequently he thought it would be worth about $600. I told Mr. I of Mr. Pilkey’s estimate and told him not to rush into a sale. Mr. I insisted that since the boat had supported him, so to speak, he wanted to hand it over to someone kind and able to take proper care of it without fussing over the price. So I created the necessary documents and phoned the clerk in charge at the Compensation Board. The clerk said that it was all right to hand over the whole amount of the sale to the owner. But the old man said, “It is worrisome to move with such a lot of money; if I lose it, I will be destitute. If I pay the Compensation Board now, I will continue to get my pension. That is much better and safer.” So I processed it in the end as he wished.
- The Case of Mr. E
Mr. E had a plan to replace his boat engine during winter and put his boat in the shipyard with a new engine right beside it. As soon as the announcement of the Vessel Impoundment Law, a group of people looking like marines, with military caps on, came in and ordered him to “Tow the boat to the gathering spot as soon as possible.” While he was installing towlines and blocks, part of the engine was destroyed by someone. Because it cost money to repair and return the engine to the store, he wanted us to negotiate with the Navy to cover that cost. Of course, an engine was not a fishing boat, and it was outside our jurisdiction. But if his story was the fact, it was a terrible thing, so I pushed the Navy to do something about it. But the individual who had done it was unidentified, and there was no way of investigating.
We heard a rumour that the engine of a Nikkei fishing boat tied at the Gore Street dock had been destroyed, but the facts were unclear to us. It was right after the outbreak of war, and ignorant fanatics might have taken the announcement of boat seizures as a chance to take such actions to express their enmity. But there was no obvious evidence, so there was no way to take action.
- The Case of the Skeena Fishing Group’s Boat.
From Navy headquarters in the Skeena area, there was a report that the boat Mioria was damaged, foundering, and drifting on the Skeena River, so the committee immediately reported this to Mr. Kunisaburo Miwa. “The boat was not usually used during winter and was kept in dry dock, the same as in other years. I think someone forcibly towed the boat into the water,” and then he said, with his usual frankness, “Because it is wartime, such things tend to happen. It can’t be helped,” he continued.
Around this time, because of the removal order, all Nikkei people in the Skeena area had already been moved into temporary lodgings in Hastings Park. They were in a situation where there was no way to find out the facts; thus, he realized it was useless to say anything while the guilty person was unknown. The committee appreciated the Navy for its report and requested the boat be towed to a convenient river ford, if possible.
- The Case of Mr. A
Mr. A was a carpenter who lived in a small village about 200 miles north of Vancouver. In September of 1941, he purchased a fishing boat from a Hakujin, and on land he leisurely started repairing it, but the transfer of the boat registry was incomplete. (Thus, officially it was a boat registered under the name of the Hakujin.) After the announcement of the order to impound vessels, marines came and said the boat was to be transferred to the marine impoundment area near New Westminster. Mr. A worried about possible damages and attempted to make excuses why it couldn’t be moved, but eventually it was moved to the impoundment area, and Mr. A registered himself with the committee as the real owner of the boat and the Hakujin as the registered owner.
There was no applicant wanting to purchase the boat by the end of the boat liquidation period. When boat custody was transferred from the Navy to the Custodian, with the presence of the surveyors from both sides, it was decided that the boat had become a total loss since its impoundment. Because the committee had heard about the situation from Mr. A, the committee claimed that the boat had been further damaged by forcibly being towed to the area of impoundment. This happened despite it being already incapable of navigation at the announcement of the vessel impoundment order. The committee requested $300 as compensation for damages, but Navy surveyors showed a piece of the ship’s planking which was riddled by teredo worm damage, and this bolstered their opinion that the boat was a total loss. Other surveyors agreed with this, so there seemed to be no hope for compensation. The committee left the record of the claim for compensation, complying with Mr. A’s request.
- The Departure Bay Case
This concerns a seiner that belonged to the Nanaimo Shipyard. Because the stockholder of the shipyard was in Japan at the outbreak of war, it was under the control of the Custodian. The boat was very well equipped, with a very strong searchlight, so, at the beginning, the Navy requisitioned it and used it as a guard boat within the marine impoundment area. The Navy flag flew on the mast, and two guards with bayonets were always on the boat. However, one day the boat suddenly caught fire. It was quickly extinguished, but the boat suffered considerable damage and was sent to the shipyard for repair. It is unknown how much repairs cost, but, as with other requisitioned boats, this boat was purchased by the Canadian Navy according to the surveyor’s price evaluation after going through the committee’s review process.
- The Case of Mr. N
Soon after the establishment of the committee, Mr. N and a company manager making a purchase brought us a sales contract that was already notarized and requested transfer approval. However, this contract included, besides several fishing boats: fishing nets; boat parts; a camping scow; and various tools to go with it. The committee approved this comprehensive contract, charging 1 per cent of the sales amount as a commission. The committee suggested that Mr. N make a separate contract just for the fishing boats. However, because the contract needed to be completed immediately, Mr. N was okay with paying the extra commission. They insisted the committee approve the contract, and the committee accepted the request.
- The Case of Mr. T
Mr. T entered into a sales contract with a cannery in order to sell all five of his fishing boats. He submitted the contract to the committee and requested their approval. In the contract, besides an instalment plan, there was a section stating that the repair costs and remodelling that the buyer wanted would be subtracted from the payment. Of course, because all Nikkei-owned fishing boats were impounded after the fishing season, there might be some boats that required repairs, but if the buyer were to use the conditions stated above as a legal statement, the former owner would be in a very disadvantaged position. The committee pointed this out and advised Mr. T to cancel his conditions, even give a discount, or set a maximum amount for repairs. He was advised to reach an amount which deducted repair costs, making an arrangement to get the remaining sum, if there was one, after repairs. However, Mr. T entreated the committee for approval, repeating that there was no need for such concern because this was a contract with a company he had been dealing with for a long time. The committee eventually accepted the agreement. According to what was later discovered, because the packer, The B, was remodelled as a seiner at large expense, the remodelling cost exceeded the price of the vessel. Due to it being a package deal, this exceeded amount had to be deducted from the price of the other boats. (In other words, Mr. T could have gotten more money if he had given away The B for free.)
In the early spring of 1944 when I visited the city for business, Mr. T took the trouble to attend a tea gathering, and we had an opportunity to talk there. Recalling the past, he said, “Regarding that matter of the fishing boats, you helped me a lot. I learned the hard way how much the war had changed people’s minds and their sense of honour.”
- The Case of Mr. M
Mr. M sold his boats to Mr. K when he went back to Japan in 1941.
There were proposals to decrease the number of fishing licences given to Nikkei fishermen, and there was counter-litigation from Nikkei people, which achieved some result in 1929. After that, the government kept a policy of maintaining the number of the fishing licences given to Nikkei people. Therefore, it was understood implicitly among Nikkei people that the trading of fishing licences accompanied the sale of fishing boats. (In other words, it was useless to purchase a fishing boat if a buyer could not get a fishing licence with it.) Because of such a situation, just like paying a price for a certain brand, the value of fishing licences was naturally included in the price of boats. I am not sure if this was exactly the case with Mr. M, but buyers tended to postpone registering their boat until getting a licence. Usually, licences were applied for after January 2 at the earliest each year. When war broke out, Mr. M’s fishing boat was put under the control of the Custodian (the Department for the Liquidation of Enemy Property), since the boat belonged to an absent owner. If Mr. M returns to Canada after the war, he will get the sale amount, but I do not know if Mr. M is still alive or not.
- The Case of Mr. U
Mr. U’s boat was very old, built in 1921, but because the engine had been replaced in 1931, it had been evaluated by the surveyor at $316. In late April, he sold this boat to a cannery for $75 (thus, 13.07 per cent of the estimated value). The committee did not have a chance to meet Mr. U, so we did not know the details of the transaction, but probably it was not only due to the anxiety of having to relocate. Mr. U had bought the boat about a year before the outbreak of war and had given a mortgage to the cannery; thus, it seems that Mr. U stated the amount deducted from the mortgage as the sale price. Among cases similar to this one, there were 10 other cases where the sales contracts were agreed to at below 50 per cent of the estimated value.
- The Case of Mr. C
Mr. C owned a boat built in 1920, and he maintained it in immaculate condition. The surveyor evaluated his boat at $661 because it did not look like a 20-year-old boat. However, because of the old registry date, no one seems to have actually surveyed the boat, and the boat wasn’t sold for a long time. Around mid-July, it was eventually liquidated based on the method of forced sales, with a price evaluated by a surveyor. I felt sorry because the date of registration disadvantaged this boat.
- The Case of Mr. G
It was in the beginning of March that I happened to meet Mr. G. He said, “I’d like you to sell these boats as soon as possible because we have to relocate, and if we don’t have any money we’ll be in trouble.” I was surprised at Mr. G because, when I was collecting documents to make a fishing boat catalogue, I heard a rumour that Mr. G was saying, “Report the price of your boat as high as possible, and never sell it, even though it decays.” Because it was wartime, I expected there to be false rumours among Hakujin. I realized that even among Nikkei people there are those who spread false rumours and slander.
However, in mid-April, I heard from someone else that Mr. G was telling people, “I’ve sold off all three of my boats. If I’d hesitated, they would’ve soon been worthless.” I felt strange and checked the accounts book. It turned out that the agreed price of his sales contract had been one-third of the catalogue price. When this was happening, surveyors had not yet systemically evaluated the boats, so it is unclear whether Mr. G’s sale price was one-third of the market price or the reported price of the boats was an inflated 300 per cent of the market price. To this day, I am still mystified with Mr. G’s motives for saying and doing these things.
- The Case of Mr. Y
Mr. Y was a fisherman on the Skeena River. Following the order of impoundment, he navigated his boat to Prince Rupert and at the request of the Navy, further navigated as far as Steveston. The boat was impounded in the New Westminster marine impoundment area, but later, at the request of a cannery that turned out to be the registered owner, the boat was released and passed on to that company. Mr. Y did not have to navigate a boat that wasn’t his, so it was assumed that he hadn’t registered the boat yet because there was a balance remaining with the company. Similar to the case of Mr. Y, there were six other boats navigated from Prince Rupert that were later released to their registered owners.
- The Case of Mr. T and Mr. Y
A boat owned by Mr. T and Mr. Y sank in the impoundment area and was towed to a shipyard for repairs. The cost of repair exceeded the value of the boat, so the Navy declared the boat a total loss. With the mediation of the Liaison Committee, the boat-owners submitted a $400 compensation claim, but when the committee tasks were transferred to the Custodian, this case remained unsettled. In May of 1943, there was a request from Mr. T and Mr. Y to speed up the settlement. I visited the Custodian to find out that the payment of $393.50 from the government had just arrived, so I asked the Custodian to make an arrangement to send the payment. (However, because the Custodian could only send a maximum of $100 a month based on an agreement with the BC Security Commission, it took four months to complete.) There were 12 other boats in total that the Navy determined to be total losses.
- The Case of Mr. S
Mr. S was a gill-net fisherman on the Fraser River, but he also used his boat to ferry children to school. When the impoundment order was announced, he requested special permission from the Navy and continued to ferry the children until April 24. After that, he navigated his boat to the impoundment area. This was the only case where a boat belonging to a Nikkei person continued to operate for four months after the outbreak of war.
- The Case of Nikkei Veterans
This is an opposite case to the ones above. It concerns the Nikkei people who volunteered to the Canadian military at the time of the First World War and fought courageously on the European front. After coming home from the war, they acquired Canadian citizenship and the right to vote. However, they were not exempt from the impoundment order, and their boats were liquidated. They, as well, had to follow the order for removal of all Nikkei people from the coast.
- The Case of Mr. T, a Logging Operator
Mr. T owned two log-tender boats for his logging operation. Since he had to close his business and move somewhere soon, he contracted a sale with a Hakujin for his two boats. He demanded permission for the sale from the committee. I explained to Mr. T that they were not fishing boats; therefore, there was no need to get our permission. However, Mr. T insisted, to satisfy his buyer even paying 1 per cent commission, so I decided to give him the committee’s permission.
Apart from this case, I handled three other cases of tender boats for Nikkei logging operators in the same way.
- The Case of Small Pleasure Fishing Boats Owned by Nikkei People
Mr. K at Ocean Falls requested us to approve the sale of a few small pleasure fishing boats. Of course, these were not professional fishing boats and were free to be sold, but the buyer insisted on obtaining the committee’s approval. We decided to give it to him.
By the way, we collected money from the boats we handled, but because of the relocation of all Nikkei people, some of the owners’ addresses got lost, and we could not send their money to them. In those cases, we sent it to the Custodian and asked them to keep it for the owners.
- The Case of Mr. F
Mr. F did have a boat, but this story concerns something else.
On a day when many Nikkei people had already been moved, two RCMP officers came to see me regarding a request from Mr. F.
When Mr. F was relocated, he was anxious about carrying a large sum of cash with him, so he buried it in his garden. Now he wanted RCMP officers to dig it up, following the instructions on his map, and send the money to him. The two officers wanted me to come along with them. I thought of going with them, but a past incident came to mind.
It had happened when I was in back-and-forth discussions with the Navy about missing parts and tools from the boats of Nikkei fishermen. A newspaper had reported, “Many boat parts and tools are being found under the empty houses of Nikkei fishermen.” When the impoundment order was announced, many fishing boats were navigated from faraway places to Steveston. The Navy allowed Nikkei fishermen to take their personal belongings with them when they disembarked from the boats. However, some removed boat parts or tools from the boats. There were people in the Navy who believed this report.
(Nikkei people place a high value on tools and equipment, and they would not bury them. If they had something of value, they would report it to the Custodian before moving.)
I was worried about being the subject of a newspaper report and told this to the officers. “I haven’t met Mr. F in person,” I said, “but I hear he is very honest man. There is no need of my being a witness. I firmly believe you will find exactly the amount of money written here. Please follow up on his wishes.” I was very much relieved later on when I received a report from the RCMP that they had found exactly the amount of money mentioned by Mr. F and they had forwarded it to him. Newspaper reports and gossips kept this a much repeated story.
A few weeks after the remaining committee tasks were transferred to the Custodian, the chairman of the committee, Justice Smith, was again appointed by the federal government to be chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Liquidation of Nikkei Property (I describe this matter in Part II). After that, he continued to work as the chief justice at the BC Supreme Court and as a full-time justice at the Marine Court. He passed away in 1959.
Mr. Johnson, a committee member and representative from the Ministry of Defence, went to the Port of Halifax on May 29, 1942, where he was in active service. After the war, he was promoted to Navy captain and transferred to the reserves. Returning to Vancouver, he lived a tranquil life. In 1968, he passed away in Shaughnessy Hospital.
Mr. McMaster worked as a deputy director on the Advisory Committee on Japanese Properties, directed by Justice Smith. He was then appointed by the Hon. C.D. Howe, the minister of munitions and supplies, to work in his ministry. After the war, he worked as a port manager at Vancouver Harbour, retiring in 1958. He died from an illness in 1960.
The following members of the Nikkei contingent who served with devotion have all, regrettably, passed away: Mr. Kunisaburo Miwa in New Denver; Mr. Hideo Fukuyama at Christina Lake; Mr. Kohei Nakai in Toronto; Mr. Matsunosuke Shinde in Greenwood.
The following members are still alive: Mr. Unosuke Hashimoto in Richmond; Mr. Mitsujiro Noguchi in Guelph, Ontario; Mr. Ritsu Ide in Toronto, although he was not a member but the former director of the Nikkei Liaison Association.
Although there is no document that records exactly the total worth of the fishing boats owned by Nikkei people, I have the impression that it was approximately $2,000,000 in total, taking into account what I heard before the war.
- The actual sales amount was $1,423,182.
- There were 187 vessels transferred to the Custodian with an estimate of $400 per vessel, equaling $74,800, although the exact price is unknown.
- There were 20 remaining vessels under the control of the Custodian of Enemy Property, estimated at $350 per vessel, making $7,000.
- There were 70 vessels semi-owned by Nikkei people, estimated at $400 per vessel, equaling $28,000.
- Nine vessels for which compensation for total loss was requested. (However, one of them was denied. See “The case of Mr. A” and “The case of Mr. T and Mr. Y.”) $3,918.
- Three vessels where the procedure of request for compensation of total loss was not completed, estimated at $400 per vessel, coming to $1,200.
- Cases where the sale price was written down as the sale amount minus the rest of the mortgage, $5,116.
Total = $1,543,216
This figure is the assumptive total amount. If we suppose $2,000,000 as the correct amount, the total amount above equals 77.2 per cent of $2,000,000, and we can tentatively say that the boats were sold at a 22.8 per cent discount.
Except in the cases of the 152 boats the committee had to forcibly dispose of due to the urgency of the situation (among them, 136 cases later approved by the owners), the committee left all of the sales contracts as free negotiations between buyers and sellers.
Despite that, if the owners suffered a loss, it was because they were heavily pressed by the emergency situation of wartime and the order to remove all Nikkei people. They were concerned with various points:
- Anxiety about the expense of keeping a boat during a war that no one knew how long would last.
- There was no guarantee that the boats would not be damaged if the owners kept them.
- Owners could not expect any income even if they made charter contracts.
- Anxiety about the cost of living at their place of relocation.
Therefore, the owners were not in a position to negotiate a fair price.
At one time, volunteers from various places examined the possibility of compensating the loss of Nikkei property. Three Greenwood committee members visited me and requested I submit documents relating to the sale of Nikkei fishing boats. They said they would amalgamate the accounts from Nikkei fishermen with other property under the care of the Custodian. They would submit them, through Mr. McMaster, a lawyer, the associate partner at Norris and McLennan.
Even though we arrived at the loss figures mentioned above, there was no documentation on individual fishing boat estimates authorized by surveyors to prove the total amount was $2,000,000, the basis on which the result was reached. Also, the committee left the sales negotiations to the discretion of the boat-owners, so I think it unfair to complain there were problems in the process.
However, if we generalize the matter of compensation to include everything that was sold, even voluntarily, to consist of: real estate; fishing vessels; fishing tools; forests; furniture; shops; rooming houses; business brands; and so on, you can argue that Nikkei people had to sell at bargain prices because of anxiety about their forced removal. The Order of Removal was definitely a biased order, which was applied only to Nikkei people, from among all other enemy foreigners. We could make a convincing claim that property sold under pressure should be compensated for. Testimonies could be collected from various fields. Even if somehow the claim proved unsuccessful, it would at least contribute to making the general Canadian public recognize the sacrifice Nikkei people had to make.
“Why don’t you suggest this claim to Mr. McMaster, the lawyer?” “I would respond to a summons and certainly testify,” I replied.
This attempt at a claim did not materialize for some reason, maybe because they did not acquire enough support from the Nikkei community, or they failed to obtain an agreement with Mr. McMaster, or for some other unknown reason.
In eastern Canada, this issue of general compensation was debated, but it was called off there as well. I heard there was some difficulty raising expenses, but it remains unclear.
Now, some might argue that these fishing boats, which used to be owned by Nikkei people, could have been a resource when Nikkei people returned to the west coast if they hadn’t been sold, but at the time, no one could predict the future. Moreover, the boats were necessary “to ensure food supply,” a government policy, and in the end Nikkei people gave up their boats.
After the war, there was progress in the quality of fishing boats and equipment, and I think Nikkei people would eventually face the necessity of having to renew their boats. Be that as it may, if Nikkei people suffered the estimated losses mentioned above, I would like to investigate whether they came out with something positive.
It has not been investigated, but I think it is a small matter that the owners saved costs for boat maintenance and damage repairs, which they had to cover, in case their boats did not sell.
Even though these are invisible achievements, they are very significant:
- All Nikkei fishermen not only followed the law to impound vessels, navigating their boats to the impoundment area but also:
- Accepted the request by the Navy and took further trouble navigating the vessels to the impoundment area at New Westminster.
- All Nikkei fishermen understood the necessity to ensure the food supply, giving up their boats and cooperating promptly to release the boats to go out fishing.
I think these are meaningful points because they could make the Canadian general public recognize that Nikkei Canadians carried out their responsibility as Canadian citizens in spite of extremely difficult circumstances.
At the end of January, soon after the committee started the liquidation of fishing boats, one newspaper that usually reported anti-Nikkei stories reported that “Nikkei boat owners are insisting on absurd prices.” This was according to a Hakujin fisherman. Another rumour was that “Nikkei owners removed boat parts and equipment and stored them in warehouses with fishing nets,” related in the typical manner of some abusive Hakujin fisherman. Moreover, the newspaper reported that it was predicted that “the Committee would suffer from hundreds of old, unsold vessels.” In late April, the newspaper reported “We give praise to the Committee which is successfully managing difficult problems even Solomon might fail to manage. The Committee has already released more than half the vessels to people who need them.” Also, in late May the newspaper reported, from a speech made by Mr. McMaster, that “Mr. McMaster gives praise to the Nikkei owners of vessels who were willing to cooperate.” I felt that this might be evidence that the profile of Nikkei people with the general public had improved and the newspaper could not ignore it.
Two years after Nikkei people were allowed to return to the west coast (beginning in 1949), I was asked by an acquaintance to accompany him to Vancouver. We had a meeting with Mr. C, section chief of the N fishery company. I had known him for a long time since Mr. R and his brother were fresh-fish traders. Mr. C suddenly hugged me and said,
“Thank you for coming! My flagship packer, the Dara-Dog, was alone and lonely, but fortunately I could purchase the Kitaka and the Nakamoto from the Custodian. Now I have the same number of packers as long ago, and I am going to keep them for a long time, for sentimental reasons. I was pleased to meet with R. Also, I saw S at the office a while ago. He has been working here for two years. He would be happy to see you!”
Mr. C got so excited to see me that my acquaintance was surprised. Both of us could understand the conversation, but for those who didn’t know the circumstances, it was of course odd. I finished the business with my acquaintance, and when I was talking with other old acquaintances, Mr. S arrived.
Soon after Nikkei people were allowed to return to the coast, Mr. S went to Vancouver. He pioneered the revival of fishing by Nikkei people. He was expecting threats from Hakujin fishermen. The cannery he had worked for before hesitated to work with Nikkei fishermen, so he switched to the N fishery company.
“Remembering the old days, I was tense and nervous, but, contrary to my apprehensions and as if the world had completely changed, people kindly assisted me with all sorts of matters. It was dream-like, I don’t know how many times I pinched myself,” he recalled.
All Nikkei immigrants have suffered from the anti-Nikkei movement since they landed in the province of BC, but especially Nikkei fishermen. Although they were all naturalized citizens, they suffered from continuous, severe exclusion practices. The number of fishing licences was limited, and moreover, the licences themselves were limited by discriminatory conditions. So throughout the fishing season, they operated only within the small fishing areas accorded them by licence. However, after the war the limitation on the number of licences was abolished (note: the current law for limitation is merely to protect certain kinds of fish and to increase the revenue of fishermen and is not anti-Nikkei), and all types of licences are granted to Nikkei fishermen. They can fish any areas, the same as other fishermen.
Common sense among the general public no longer condones anti-Nikkei practices, and I believe there is no room for anti-Nikkei propaganda. It was definitely the behaviour of the Nikkei fishermen who created such an atmosphere, by following the law, making sacrifices, and cooperating with government policy during the war.
There might be some people who insist that this is “because Nikkei people received suffrage,” but it is too simple to conclude that it is a matter of course that naturalized citizens and Canadian-born citizens have suffrage. In reality, Nikkei people in general raised their profile with the Canadian general public by demonstrating their diligence, pleasant character, law-abiding spirit, and patience toward past discriminatory treatment, and these formed the basis whereby Nikkei people were granted suffrage.
To the Second and Third Generations
From the current perspective, at a time when protests and demonstrations are the trend, there might be some who laugh at the Nikkei who conducted themselves with silence and obedience for decades. In fact, there were lawsuits claiming suffrage in the old days by Nisei representatives. Regarding the limitation of fishing licences, Nikkei people fought in the Supreme Court of Canada and the Privy Council in England, winning both cases. But Parliament gave the minister of fisheries the authority to discriminate when they issued fishing licences. We swallowed our tears. Recently, the Nisei conducted a protest against the draft of the removal of all Nikkei people, but this also ended with disappointing results.
Depending on the time period, situation, environment, and social standing, the outcomes are different. There might also be different opinions among us; however, I just want young people to understand that the Issei were by no means ignorant or stupid.
At the risk of sounding too insistent, I would like you to understand that the Issei were not an inferior ethnic group. They had to take care of their families in Japan. Even if they studied, sacrificing their families at home, there was no way for them to find good employment. They did not have suffrage, their English was not good enough, and their fields of employment were limited because of exclusionary practices. They had to take care of their family in Canada, and they somehow built up a base in the face of a vicious anti-Nikkei campaign. You might laugh at my slim advice, but I would like to urge you not to foment unconscious ethnic self-hatred.
Last year when the atomic bomb exhibition was held at a department store in Tokyo, a magazine reported that many young people who saw the photos of the terrible scenes of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki said, “There was notice of bombing from the United States, why didn’t people evacuate? They must have been really dumb.” These young people laughed without knowing that the atomic bomb was kept strictly a secret and people of the era did not know its power. I do not want similar thoughts repeated among Canada’s Nikkei community.
When you criticize, I would like you to investigate, face squarely, and consider the time period, the circumstances, situation, and environment that the Issei and some in the Nisei were placed in. I would like you to recognize that Nikkei people were rewarded for their struggle and finally reached the dawn of a new era after the war. With this understanding, I would like you to leap forward into various fields with self-awareness and self-respect.
An Example from the Fishing Boat Catalogue
Please refer to “Certificate” of British Registry in filling this blank; special attention is required in case of “Length,” “Width,” and “Depth.”
Name of Vessel Official Number Naval Control Number
Port of Registry Date of Registry
Gross Tonnage Net Tonnage
Length Width Depth
Make of Engine (Present) Date When Re-installed
Horse Power Knot (Speed)
When Hull Built When Hull Rebuilt
Type of Vessel Seiner Packer Gill-Netter Troller Trawler Other
Formerly Used as Value (Replacement)
Date When Surveyed Last Value (Present)
Place of Operation Value (Insured)
Charter Rate 1940 Chartered To: 1940
Charter Rate 1941 Chartered To: 1941
Amount of Mortgage, If Any Mortgaged To:
Registered Owners Name Actual Owners Name