The Diary Part Two
Part II: The Advisory Committee on Nikkei Properties in Greater Vancouver
Table of Contents
The Course of Events Leading up to the Establishment of the Committee
March 13, 1943:
In the evening, a telegram came from Colonel C.H. Hill, divisional commander of the RCMP, stating:
“Regarding property owned by Nikkei people, the Custodian, as well as Mr. George Collins of the BC Security Commission (where he is a Commissioner of Japanese Placement), wishes to consult with you. Please come to Vancouver as soon as possible.”
I thought I would travel to Vancouver in a few days’ time. The next day (Sunday), Corporal William Durnin of the Grand Forks RCMP detachment came to visit and prompted me to go to the head office in Vancouver, handing me a travel permit to do so. That same night, I left Cascade for Vancouver.
I met Col. Hill, who told me that he would report to Mr. Collins about me. He prompted me to see Mr. G.W. McPherson, executive assistant to the Hon. Mr. McLarty, secretary of state. Mr. McPherson said he was creating an advisory committee to deal with the liquidation of Nikkei properties and wanted me to represent the Nikkei community.
It was a serious matter, and I had no experience of property evaluation. So I declined the offer and recommended several other people. I should have consulted with those people before recommending them, but I had no time to do so. I recommended four people, all of them Nikkei businessmen, to deal with Vancouver properties and Mr. Yasutaro Yamaga to handle rural properties. If he needed more people, I suggested he ask those who had been recommended to put forward other names for consideration. Mr. McPherson asked me to stay in Vancouver a few more days while he spoke to Ottawa and investigated candidates before reaching a decision.
Two days later, Mr. McPherson told me they had accepted Mr. Yamaga to be in charge of rural properties and that he would soon be coming to Vancouver. The government did not accept any other candidates for Vancouver properties, and he wanted me to accept the position. They were going to reappoint Justice Smith as the committee chairman and suggested I consult with him. I wanted to know why none of the candidates I believed to be appropriate were accepted by the government, but I refrained from asking in case that put them in an awkward position.
Mr. Yamaga came to Vancouver from his place of evacuation and expressed his resolve to do the job, stating: “I thought I would devote my life to farming in the Fraser Delta, but it turns out that this will be my final life’s work. Fortunately, my friend Mr. Halbert Menzies, a real estate agent who knows the Haney district well, will also be a member. This work shall be my own funeral. You as well, must again, give your best.”
I had already shut down the salted salmon business I had devoted myself to since 1920 when I accepted the job of liquidating the Nikkei fishing boats. (On another occasion, I’ll disclose why the Nikkei salted salmon business could not be rehabilitated while the salmon fishery could.) When I was burying the Nikkei fishing industry, I was well supported by a few like-minded members of the Liaison Committee. This time around, I didn’t feel as comfortable or confident. I knew nothing about property liquidation and had no support staff. I said this to Mr. Yamaga and then decided to consult with Justice Smith.
Advisory Committee on Nikkei Properties, Rural Division
At 10:30 in the morning, in the Custodian’s office, the first meeting of the Advisory Committee (Rural Division) was held. Mr. McPherson recommended I attend the meeting as an observer. The committee consisted of the following people:
Chairman: His Honour, Justice Whiteside of New Westminster
Member: Mr. Yasutaro Yamaga, Tasheme, BC
Member: Mr. D. MacKenzie, New Westminster
Member: Mr. J.J. McLellan, Fort Langley
Member: Mr. Hal. Menzies, Haney
Besides these, from the Custodian’s Office there were Mr. McPherson and his deputy Mr. Shears, as well as their lawyer, Mr. Wright. Mr. McPherson made introductions, explained the duties and rights of the committee, and then explained that Mr. Shears would consult with the committee from time to time. After that, the chairman said that the meeting would usually be held in the New Westminster courthouse and if not, a notice of assembly would make clear where the meeting place would be. Then the meeting was dissolved.
I visited Justice Smith, who informed me that he had sent a letter to me in Cascade. In the letter, he said that when he was asked by the secretary of state to form the Advisory Committee under the Custodian, he told them that he would appoint Alderman Charles Jones and me. I said that the Custodian is supposed to protect and manage the property of Nikkei people after they have been relocated. People who wanted to sell or lease their property could request the Custodian to assist them. Also, there should be a few bilingual people in the office. They could certainly deal with these demands and facilitate them more efficiently than Nikkei committee members like myself who had no experience dealing with property.
He persuaded me that this Advisory Committee was different from the Fishing Boat Disposal Committee. This committee would simply give advice after consultations with the Department of Japanese Placement within the Office of the Custodian. We had Mr. Jones, who was well versed in finance and city zoning. Furthermore, Justice Smith had informally appointed Mr. McMaster (see Afterward) as deputy director. Justice Smith spoke at length on a proposal, from the BC Security Commission and the Custodian that had taken place during cabinet discussions, about Nikkei properties. He persuaded me to accept the appointment, and I said I would try my best.
On returning to the hotel, I found the letter that Mr. Smith had sent from Cascade. The authorities checked the mail, and often letters took a long time to arrive. Reading this letter, it became clear why the government had not accepted the people I had recommended to handle Vancouver properties. They had already selected the Nikkei committee member.
At 10 o’clock in the morning, after receiving word, I went to Justice Smith’s room at the courthouse. Besides the chairman, committee member Kimura, and deputy director McMaster, Mr. McPherson and his deputy, Mr. Shears, acting director of the Custodian, were present. Alderman Jones could not attend because of a conflict with city council scheduling. We decided to postpone the meeting until the next day, and we listened to Mr. McPherson’s explanation, as follows:
Clarification of Orders-in-Council and an Explanation of the Function of the Custodian
By Order-in-Council PC 1665 of March 4, 1942, and Order-in-Council PC 2483 of March 27, 1942, both issued based on the War Measures Act (chapter 206 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1927), property (except fishing boats, bank accounts, bonds, securities, and stock, etc.) owned by all removed Nikkei people was put under the protection of the Custodian. People on the street called this the “Enemy Property Disposition Act,” but it is the “Consolidated Regulations Respecting Trading with the Enemy Act” of 1939. This originally applied to enemy products. This regulation would be applied to the protection of property of removed Nikkei people, with necessary modifications.
According to these regulations, the property of Japanese nationals who lived and were not interned in this country was not necessarily considered to be enemy property. On the other hand, the property of Canadians or naturalized citizens who resided in enemy countries would sometimes be treated as enemy property. The Custodian has already disposed of a few properties, based on a request from removed Nikkei people and, with the cooperation of the BC Security Commission, are sending a hundred dollars a month until the account is exhausted. This policy will be ongoing, with an increase beyond the hundred-dollar limit if necessary.
Later on, to clarify and to make partial changes to the two orders-in-council mentioned above (PC 1665 and 2483), another order-in-council was passed (PC 469 of Jan. 19, 1943). According to this order, the right of entrustment and responsibility of the Custodian consisted of the control and effective governance of property owned by Nikkei people. Therefore, it became clear that the Custodian functions to liquidate, sell, or dispose of by other methods all Nikkei property when the Custodian finds it necessary to fulfill their responsibility.
The Custodian had been making an effort to fulfill their mission of protecting the property of Nikkei people left in the area of coastal defence. They observed that under the circumstances, properties could not escape theft or damage and thus concluded to sell them in due course. Please understand that this was not a confiscation of property because we applied the Enemy Property Disposition Act only after adding the necessary modification to it, as mentioned previously.
Points the Custodian wanted to put to the Advisory Committee were as follows:
- Considering the present circumstances, is it right to sell properties owned by Nikkei people, as its primary function?
- If the answer is yes, please indicate what is considered to be the best way or conditions or terms of selling these properties.
- What is the best way to evaluate them?
- Is it in the public interest to dispose of, as soon as possible, property owned by religious groups?
- Under the circumstances, it was difficult to protect movable assets, and theft and damage of these assets was rampant. The BC Security Commission considered sending assets to removed owners not only inconvenient but unnecessary. Whether this was just or not, these assets were disposed of. (Because the Custodian has no intention to dispose of religious objects or things of sentimental value, the committee doesn’t need to advise on this issue.)
First Meeting of the Committee
From 11 o’clock in the morning, all of us, including Mr. Jones, gathered in Justice Smith’s room and had the first meeting of the committee.
Mr. McPherson repeated the points he discussed yesterday in the unofficial meeting and informed us that he had to go to eastern Canada immediately. Mr. Shears would replace him while he was absent. Therefore, when the committee requires a report or information or the Custodian’s opinion, the committee should get in touch with Mr. Shears. Also, when the committee came up with recommendations regarding their principal policy, he wanted us to inform him as soon as possible.
We expressed our wish to inspect a selection of properties representative of those owned by Nikkei people before we came up with recommendations. We asked Mr. Shears to facilitate the inspection for us. We proposed to create a list of properties under the protection of the Custodian, and this proposal was accepted as well. After that we discussed the location of the office and decided to rent Room 1012 in the Royal Bank Building at 675 West Hastings St., Vancouver. After that, Mr. McPherson and Mr. Shears left the room. It was decided that:
- McMaster would be the deputy director.
- The committee would be named The Advisory Committee on Japanese Properties in Greater Vancouver, and for short, The Advisory Committee.
- The property would be inspected at two o’clock the next day.
Inspection of the Properties Owned by Nikkei People
Judge Smith, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Kimura, with a guide from the Custodian, went to view stores and rental rooms around Powell Street. These were places already rented out through real estate agents, but they were generally humble and on the level of temporary dwellings. The situation was the same on Cordova Street. It seemed that there were a considerable number of places that required large sums spent on them to comply with city bylaws. It seemed impossible for such a small patrol of people to protect so many properties. Due to the war, the general public turned a blind eye to vandalism of empty houses. Vandals had grown increasingly bold, under the illusion that everyone approved of their conduct. It was easy to see that damages were increasing daily.
The Custodian received a request from the evacuees to send books that were stored in two places. They, being Hakujin, had been unable to read titles and get the requested books. We thought this would be an opportunity to see the properties as well, and all of us went to view them. On the second floor of a store it seemed someone had gained entry through a window. A ruined gramophone and records were strewn across the floor. The Custodian informed the owner, but nothing was stolen. Although it was reported to the police, the vandals have yet to be found. We proceeded to the United Church, where the belongings of believers were stored, and fortunately there had been no vandalism there. We were able to locate the fishing-related books requested.
Along the way, I asked if we could go to my acquaintance’s house on Cordova Street. He had asked me to check on some flower vases he’d hidden under the floorboards. When we got there, someone had already pried up the boards, and there was nothing there. Because the owner had carelessly used new floor boards, it had been easy for the thief to notice the variance. There was a similar case on Powell Street where the owner had hidden precious items in the ceiling and pasted over the cache with new wallpaper. Apparently, that had attracted the eyes of the thief.
At a store called Maikawa, two sales clerks, a man and a woman, were hired by the Custodians at the request of the owner to sell the remaining stock. They said there were hardly any customers coming to the store and almost all business was mail-order sales from removed Nikkei people. They locked up the store tightly at six o’clock, but they felt uneasy until they opened up the next morning and saw whether or not everything was safe.
List of Real Estate Owned by Nikkei People
We received a list of real estate placed under the Custodian’s jurisdiction, owned by removed Nikkei people.
premises, empty lots total
- City of Vancouver, north of False Creek 193 15 208
- City of Vancouver, south of False Creek 191 42 233
- North Vancouver and West Vancouver 16 14 30
- Burnaby 13 14 27
Total 413 85 498
Evaluation for tax purposes
premises buildings lots (empty) total
- $257,847.00 $481,917.00 $6,265.00 $746,029.00
- $199,800.00 $250,010.00 $8,955.00 $458,765.00
- $9,461.50 $19,210.00 $3,965.00 $32,816.00
- $5,421.83 $12,830.00 $3,360.00 $21.611.00
Total $472,710.33 $763,967.00 $22,545.00 $1,259,222.00
The total tax amount for the above properties $45,464.20
There were 379 cases where Nikkei owners appointed real estate agents or lawyers. The Custodians were in the middle of creating cards for each of the 496 cases mentioned above. If we leave the over 400 pieces of real estate scattered over the city, as well as the movable assets stored in them, it is clear that the rate of loss and damage would be far more than under usual circumstances. We all agreed, unofficially, that there was no other way but to sell everything, although we would have to adjust the details. (Religious and educational materials should be exempt.)
The Custodian requested our help to send a sewing machine from Steveston to some removed Nikkei people. There were Japanese tags attached to it that they couldn’t read. They also wanted us to investigate whether or not the machine was in working order. This was outside of our jurisdiction, but we went to Steveston with permission to inspect a few other warehouses as well. The sewing machine was in the former Fishermen’s Association building, and because a guard was stationed at the hospital section, there was no damage. However, furniture and boxes kept at the former daycare were all opened, and Japanese carpentry tools and Japanese dolls were strewn about the floor. We could not tell how much had been stolen and which stuff belonged in which box, and it seemed impossible to clean it up properly.
We went to the Buddhist Temple because we’d heard that someone had broken in through a window. It seemed to be simple mischief, and there were about five pots of ashes of the dead with their contents scattered. It was not unusual for Nikkei people to honour the dead collectively, so we told the guard to put the ashes into the large pot.
Main Policy Decisions
At 11 in the morning, we all gathered at the room of Justice Smith and decided the following:
- Under the circumstances and in order to stop losses, we decided, in principle, to sell all property owned by the removed Nikkei people.
- Regarding the sale of the above properties, there were a few points to be investigated further. Therefore, the sale details will be decided after we see the documents and hear the Custodian’s views.
- The sale of religious and educational properties shall be put off unless there is a request or permission from the person responsible or a compulsory sale due to debt.
At 10 in the morning we all gathered at the room of Justice Smith. The Custodian requested us to deliberate urgently on three Nikkei properties next to a munitions factory. The sale contract had to be completed as soon as possible. According to city zoning, all three properties were in an industrial area. In the opinion of Mr. Jones, “Once the city declares that the present houses are not fit for habitation, only a factory will be allowed to be built. The evaluation for tax purposes is based on a certain rational formula to be fair, but it’s not necessarily the same as the market price.”
Consequently, the Custodian wanted advice on the following points.
- The buyer’s price.
- The evaluation of the real estate agent the Custodian is using for the Department of Enemy Property Disposal.
- After deliberating on these prices, please advise us of a proper price.
We decided to have regular meetings every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the private room of Justice Smith.
Items under Deliberation
At the weekly regular meeting, the Custodian and Mr. McMaster, after deliberation, presented the following items to us.
- The method of real estate sales
- Advice on whether or not to adopt the tender system.
- If yes, the method of advertising.
- Deadline for tender?
- Sale condition. Cash payment? In case of installment method, how big should down payment be? The terms of payment.
- How to provide opportunity for prospective purchasers to survey the houses.
- Listing with real estate agents?
- How much should agent’s commission be?
- Is it possible to persuade Nikkei people to entrust their certificate of land title to the Custodian?
(Note: There was a note attached to this stating that the Custodian was already selling properties under the Department of Enemy Property Disposal through a tender method. They wish to do the same with the property of relocated Nikkei people.)
- Form of the catalogue and other items
- Is it necessary to create a catalogue for the general public? If yes, in what form?
- In this catalogue, shall we include properties under the Department of Enemy Property Disposal?
- Should we create the catalogue according to districts and carry out separate tenders accordingly?
- How to evaluate the properties
- Evaluate individual properties?
- Who shall we ask to evaluate?
- Who will pay the cost of evaluation?
- How to deal with existing rental contracts
- Shall we give priority to renters in place at the time of sale?
- How to deal with the expired rental contract?
- How to dispose of the movable assets
- Shall we employ the tender method? If yes, how to evaluate and decide on a minimum price.
- Shall we employ the auction method with proceedings open to the general public? How do we allocate the auctioneers?
- At auction, how to evaluate and decide on a minimum price?
- How to share the auction costs (including the transportation of assets).
- In the case of assets being in rental houses, shall we give priority of purchase to the renters?
- How to store religious objects or objects considered having sentimental value.
- How about setting up a deadline for those who want to have their movable assets sent to them?
(Note: There was a note attached that in some cases the Custodian is renting Nikkei houses to store the movable assets, and in those cases they want to sell the movable assets before liquidating the houses.)
To the above items, we came up with general suggestions, and after discussion with Mr. McMaster and Mr. Shears, we deliberated further and added modifications.
- 1. Yes to the tender method.
- It is all right to advertise everything at the same time but to create separate deadlines in order to avoid market saturation and to maintain prices.
- The terms the Custodian is using are all right.
- An instalment method is acceptable, but judgment needs to be used according to individual situations.
- Because the majority of Nikkei owners appointed agents, we will use them. In the cases where owners did not appoint agents, the Custodian will appoint them.
- Not necessary.
- The general standard rate.
- Encouraging Nikkei people to entrust their certificate of land title to the Custodian will only increase their sense of alarm.
- 1. Make a catalogue which includes listing headings to register the real estate, such as: the lot number; block; district; name of town; house number; building classification; appointed agent; etc. (However, real estate belonging to religious and educational institutions shall be excluded from the catalogue.)
- The decision lies in the hands of the Custodian.
- 1. Yes.
- The evaluation should be kept secret until the end of the tender; therefore, the Custodian should use surveyors already employed or, if necessary, make a careful selection from among them.
- 1. Impossible.
- Houses with a completed contract shall be leased until the sale of the house. Those with uncompleted contracts shall be sold with the lease.
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all pending.
- (Pending.) However, at one time, the BC Security Commission was against sending movable assets to removed Nikkei people because there were no storage spaces, but now their storage facilities have gradually improved and they are capable of storing some movable assets. We would like the Custodian and Security Commission to now allow the sending of some of these movable assets.
I went home by night train for a break, with permission from Justice Smith. My family had moved to Christina Lake but was still living in a hotel. I settled my family into a cabin at long last, returning to Vancouver early in the morning of April 27.
Special Deliberation Regarding Lots Next to Munitions Factory
The regular meeting was held. (The regular meeting of April 21 was postponed.)
The pending subject from April 7, regarding properties adjoining the munitions factory, was debated. The Custodian provided us with the prices offered by companies wishing to purchase, as well as the price estimates of the realtor, Mr. Douglas Reeve (from Johnson, Reeve and Watson). We came up with the following recommended prices.
1 2 3
Buyer’s price $1,100.00 $1,400.00 $800.00 (full payment)
Mr. Reeve’s estimate $2,000.00 $1,500.00 41,000.00 (full payment)
Our recommendation $2,000.00 $1,750.00 $1,125.00 (full payment)
After the meeting, we moved into unofficial discussions, and I was asked my opinion of a newspaper article in The New Canadian.
When removed Nikkei people entrusted their properties, they understood that it was for the sake of safekeeping. They did not realize that, after their removal, the properties would be transferred to the Custodian by an order-in-council. Therefore, they rather entrusted their properties to lawyers or realtors, and some even neglected to report to the Custodian. Therefore, the Custodian will constantly face opposition to the forced sale of their properties.
From the Custodian’s viewpoint, it is reasonable to sell the properties because they cannot protect them sufficiently. However, it would be difficult to obtain comprehensive consent of all Nikkei people. If there is any basis for a legal challenge, Nikkei people would take this to the courts. The sooner the outcome of the legal challenge becomes clear, the easier the problem for the Custodian.
When we deliberated the possibility of encouraging Nikkei people to deposit land title certificates, I was allowed to put my opinion in the draft. From the beginning, I had an apprehension that such a legal challenge might occur.
At our weekly meeting, we had no particular item for deliberation and listened to Mr. McMaster’s report.
- Shears held a meeting with representatives of major real estate companies on May 3, and Mr. McMaster participated as an observer.
- The design of the catalogue is almost completed, and we are now making references to the Custodian’s recording system. As soon as that is over, the catalogue will be sent to the printing shop.
- The real estate card catalogue is also near completion.
- The map showing housing lot numbers is completed.
- Shears goes to Winnipeg in two days to meet with Mr. McMaster. He is going to write a newspaper ad as soon as he returns to Vancouver.
At two o’clock on the same day, there was a phone call from the Custodian saying they have a piece of registered mail from Kaslo addressed to me, via Christina Lake.
It was a letter from the Assembly of Nikkei Property Owners in Kaslo, advising me to resign. I had expected this would come, after the newspaper article, and reported the news to Justice Smith. We decided to discuss this matter at the coming weekly meeting.
Mr. K.W. Wright, counsel to the Custodian, wanted to meet with me regarding the partial right of possession of Mr. Yamazaki, who has been in Japan since 1936.
“There is a property in Marpole under the three-part, joint equal ownership of Mr. Kiyomitsu Yamazaki, Mr. Jujiro Nishimura and Mr. Daishiro Teramura. The unpaid taxes on this property have reached $66.40, by the present date of 1942. Mr. Nishimura, with a letter of attorney from Mr. Yamazaki, proposed that the Custodian release Mr. Yamazaki’s one-third rights to him. Mr. Teramura, the third owner, has passed away, and this made things complicated. Furthermore, since the property seemed to be a school, the Custodian supposed that these three people are likely to be trustees, therefore they are reluctant to release the property to Mr. Nishimura.” He asked me what I thought about the issue.
“I think that Mr. Nishimura is trying to release his ownership because the property will be liquidated as the property of an absentee owner or as part of an inheritance arrangement. I think what the Custodian is supposing is correct, but I shall consult with Mr. Tsutae Sato and Mr. Sadayoshi Aoki, both of them former principals of the Language School in Marpole, Vancouver, before the war. Please classify this Marpole Language School as a property belonging to an educational institute, and at the same time, take measures to stop the possible sale of the property by the city due to overdue taxes.”
At the regular weekly meeting, after approving the hiring of Mr. Durkee as an assistant to Mr. McMaster, we discussed the subject of Nikkei people protesting the forced sale of their properties and then referred to the letter advising Mr. Kimura to resign. According to some opinions, once the Custodian is judged to have the function of selling properties for the sake of protection, there would be no reason for Mr. Kimura to resign. He said, “First of all, I was not elected to be a committee member by Nikkei people, and it now turns out that they are not supporting my work and are, in general, against me. Under this circumstance, I should resign. If the Custodian is judged to have the function of selling properties, Nikkei people can elect a representative if necessary and then obtain government approval.” He then requested to be released from the committee. However, the translated letter advising him to resign simply said, “Your continued position as a member, in the general opinion of your fellow countrymen, is considered to be untenable,” and no threatening words were employed. Furthermore, the main mission of the committee, as well as the drafting of advertisements, had not been discussed yet. Therefore, it was decided that Justice Smith would hold onto Mr. Kimura’s letter of resignation for several days.
Regular weekly meeting
Commercially zoned real estate had high evaluations for tax purposes, and accordingly, municipal taxes were also high. We have been studying how to lower taxes, and so we listened to Mr. Jones’s explanation.
- The city tax evaluations are fair to property-owners and generally determined by a set formula with little modification over the years. These are not necessarily the same as the market price. (The market price is influenced by the general economy, the development of new areas, or improvements to roads and other facilities.)
- Every fiscal year, the city, based on its budget, collects the mill rate of tax evaluation as municipal taxes. (That is to say, the evaluations are almost the same every year, but the mill rate can be changed.)
- Those who are unhappy with the evaluation can take necessary steps to revise their taxes at the court of revision within a certain time limit.
- Those who are not satisfied with the result of the deliberation can apply for reconsideration to the board of assessment.
- If that application is unsuccessful, including the options mentioned above, there can be an appeal to the provincial Supreme Court.
- The maximum devaluation that can be obtained through the above mentioned three processes (or one of the processes) is determined by the city charter, and that must be within 10 per cent. That is to say, we can get a maximum 10 per cent tax deduction a year. Every property-owner has the right to devalue their property. On the other hand, if other owners do not like the devaluation of surrounding properties, they have the right to oppose and sometimes speak out against the move.
- Some actions, such as a factory or a shopping arcade being built in the middle of a residential neighbourhood, negatively impact the properties in the larger vicinity. Owners can then collectively appeal to the city’s court of equalization. In our case, the issue is simply one of devaluation. If some owners think there is an issue of compensation for the loss, they can appeal to the civil court.
After hearing his explanation, we acknowledged that the difficulty we are facing with properties in commercial and industrial districts lay with today’s unusual circumstances; therefore, we decided to seek ways to further reduce taxes before submitting cases to the Custodian.
I received another resolution, posted on the eighth, from the Association of Nikkei Property Owners in the district of Slocan advising me to resign. I asked Justice Smith to put my resignation on the agenda of the next regular meeting.
Since it was a holiday, I received an invitation from Mr. Charley Moore, our old neighbour before we moved to Christina Lake. I spent a half-day chatting about the good old days and was treated to his stepmother’s, Mrs. Barkley’s, home cooking at lunch and dinner. It felt very nostalgic.
The Liquidation of a Fraser River Farm
When I returned to my hotel, I saw Mr. Yamaga. As soon as he saw me, he said, with a dead serious face, that he had finally decided to submit his resignation. Although he had been expecting challenges, he made up his mind to leave after seeing today’s Advisory Committee decision. (It was a holiday.) They decided, by a majority vote and based on the Veterans’ Lands Act retroactive to January 1, 1943, to approve the comprehensive, compulsory purchase of all properties along the Fraser River owned by Nikkei people. Consequently, the director of the Veterans’ Lands Act would be collecting house rents, farmland rents, and crop fees. Mr. Yamaga was bitterly disappointed with the complete lack of clarification regarding the evaluation of individual properties and the arrangement of the crop fee.
I heard that after the First World War, the government, based on an act similar to this one, created land for fruit farms in the southern Okanagan and sold the lots to returning soldiers and then sold the remainder to the general public. Therefore, I supposed that if there was any property remaining, it would be sold to the general public as well. However, this compulsory purchase happened during the war, and I had no idea whether this was happening through the lobbying power of the Veterans’ Association or the will of the government.
In the middle of December 1942, soon after the establishment of the Nikkei Fishing Boat Disposal Committee, there was a proposal, through Mr. Johnson, asking for special consideration of a few hundred fishermen veterans. I communicated through Mr. Johnson that by the order-in-council we were obliged to treat every fisherman equally concerning sale contracts. He was requested to “Please contact and start negotiations as soon as possible with Nikkei owners or members of the Liaison Committee.” Nothing much developed from this communication. Perhaps only a limited few were involved in this endeavour.
Regular weekly meeting
The messages from the Custodian were as follows:
- As a result of repeated negotiations, based on requests of relocated Nikkei people, eight houses have been sold up until today.
- There are another 17 houses which are being advertised for liquidation. Two of them have already sold, and the registration documents were being drawn up. The remaining 15 houses were in the middle of negotiations.
- The real estate catalogue was sent to the printing shop today.
Justice Smith said:
“The Order-in-Council PC 469, issued this January 19, 1943, clarified the right of the Custodian to sell the properties of Nikkei people, and there is no room for Nikkei people to stop this through the court of appeals. Also, it is clear to us how difficult it would be to protect over 400 Nikkei properties, including stores, houses, and other buildings. That is why we have approved the sales, to minimize losses. The committee was always trying to minimize Nikkei losses. You have been doing a great job, and your resignation will not improve the situation of Nikkei people. It would be more beneficial for you to postpone your resignation for a couple of weeks, at least, and participate in the drafting of advertising for the Custodian.”
Because of this advice, I agreed to postpone my resignation until the next meeting, on June 2.
Regular weekly meeting (at the committee office)
The Custodian sought the committee’s opinion regarding the following:
- Is it necessary to increase the number of evaluators? Should we hire those who were recommended by Mr. Reeve? (approved)
- Regarding the advertising of properties, we should divide them equally into three and advertise 150 houses at a time, putting some time between the sale deadlines. (approved)
- A list of real estate agents and lawyers appointed by Nikkei owners was presented, and a preliminary draft of the advertisement would be presented at the next regular meeting.
Drafting Real Estate Advertising
Regular weekly meeting
A draft of real estate advertising through the Custodian’s tender system was presented, along with two pages of a rough copy of the catalogue.
Following is the abstract of the advertisement.
- The bidder must use one envelope per real estate bid. If a bidder wants to bid on several pieces of real estate, he must use separate envelopes.
- When a bidder bids on several pieces of real estate using the alternative tender method, the Custodian will recognize only the real estate listed first and negate the others.
- A 10 per cent deposit on each bid is required for the Custodian.
- Every bid shall use an envelope addressed to the Custodian with “Tender for Real Estate – Catalogue Parcel No. …” clearly written on it.
- The bidding can be done through full payment or on an instalment plan. In the case of an instalment plan, the bidder needs to come up with a minimum down payment of …, with the remaining amount paid to …, … each year for … years.
- The people with tenders shall calculate a necessary adjustment (for example, of taxes and rent) on the transfer document’s date in the case of full payment and in the case of an instalment payment, on the date of the sale contract.
- Real estate with a lease contract or encumbrance shall be a collateral condition.
- Before handing over the transfer document, in the case of full payment, and the sale contract, in the case of an instalment payment, the Custodian reserves the right to cancel approval of tender and return the deposit.
- The Custodian is not responsible for matters such as the location of the real estate, the condition of the structures, or the degree of improvements.
- The deposits of unsuccessful tender applicants shall be returned to them.
- The highest bid or any other bids are not necessarily accepted.
- The bidding on properties in group A of the catalogue will be accepted by noon on July …, 1943. The deadline for other groups shall be announced later. (Regarding real estate transferred to the Custodian to be sold, see the catalogue in the real estate agency offices in the city, and obtain the necessary information and suggestions.)
The Custodian sought the opinions of the committee regarding the following issues related to the above.
Consultation Regarding Sale Advertisements
- The minimum amount of down payment and the maximum period of payment for the instalment plan.
- Newspapers to place the advertisements in.
- Number of times the advertisement will run.
- The date the first advertisement will run and if it is necessary to post more than once.
- The Custodian is thinking of setting the bidding deadline about 30 days after the posting of the advertisement. What do you think about this?
- The Custodian thinks it desirable that the evaluator keep the evaluation a secret until the deadline. What do you think?
- All the bidding shall be kept sealed until the deadline, to be opened in the presence of the Advisory Committee. What do you think?
- As stated in the advertisement, on the envelope it shall be clearly written “Tender for Real Estate Catalogue Number …,” but if the envelope is opened by accident because of the lack of this notation, we think it shall be returned to tender. What do you think?
After deliberation, the committee responded to the Custodian as follows.
- In principle, the minimum down payment shall be 30 per cent, with the period of settlement within three years. However, depending on the state of the property, if it is necessary to increase the down payment and to shorten the period of settlement, an appropriate measure shall be taken accordingly.
- Items 3 and 4 are within the discretion of the Custodian.
Approval of Resignation
After that, Justice Smith accepted Mr. Kimura’s resignation and promised to send the telegram to the secretary of state.
(In the evening, Justice Smith invited Mr. Kimura, Mr. Jones, and Mr. McMaster for dinner, and Mr. Kimura went home by night train.)
Various Anti-Nikkei Campaigns
Ever since the Japanese arrived in BC, they have had to endure persistent anti-Nikkei campaigns. Aside from the olden days, in March 1938 a member of Parliament, who always took up absurd rumours and used them as material for anti-Nikkei campaigns, made a proposition to Parliament that they cancel as meaningless an existing gentleman’s agreement with Japan. He said that the number of illegal Japanese immigrants exceeded the number of allocated immigrants.
In Vancouver City Council, despite the confirmation of legal advisers that this was an obvious abuse of power, a councillor came up with a proposal to “refuse the application of business licences from Toyojin.” As well, there was a demand to create a law to “restrict the activities of Japanese merchants to within a Japanese clientele.” Around the same time, city council took up the propaganda statement, “The majority of cod-fishing union members were Nikkei people, and they were trying to raise the price unilaterally.” Council created a marketing committee, which held “public hearings” about the price of cod for a considerable length of time. Although the committee had invited many witnesses and spent large sums of money, the result was “nothing.” It looked bad to bury this investigative report, so the committee, to save face, submitted it to the Ministry of Fisheries as a reference at the end of October. The ministry pointed out that four main judgments (discoveries) written in the report were lacking in reliability.
To restrict Toyojin’s business licences, it was necessary to change the city charter. However, city council could not resist their unreasonable aldermen, and a draft of the amendment was tabled in the provincial Parliament in the middle of November. Part of their reasoning was that the ratio of licences issued to Vancouver Toyojin in 1937 was as follows:
Cleaners and dye factories 53.47%
Fish shops 44.44%
Vegetable shops 91.44%
Food stores 19.82%
Laundry clerical workers 89.58%
Chicken meat and egg shops 38.09%
Sewing shops 29.59%
The increase of licences issued to Japanese workers for the 10 years between 1927 and 1937 was 74 per cent. For Chinese workers, there was a 34.7 per cent increase. I supposed that what they wanted to say was that they were an economic threat. (However, the most important statistical numbers, such as amount of production, volume of business, and number of employees, etc., were not there. Of course, they did not refer to the trades Toyojin were not engaged in or the occupations Toyojin were banned from.) Some members in the Private Bill Committee were sympathetic toward city council, but because it was clearly an illegal abuse of power, they could not possibly agree to the draft and refused the amendment on November 23.
Seemingly plausible rumours were spread that Nikkei fishermen had special maps, much more detailed than those of Hakujin fishermen, or that Japanese Navy spies disguised as fishermen were snooping along the coast.
For Nikkei gill-net fishermen, things had been peaceful since 1929, but suddenly in April the boat puller’s licences (the so-called “partner’s licences”), which was related to their fishing operations, were reduced by 40 per cent. (Since then, licence reductions continued yearly, with the licence completely abolished by 1941.)
The proposal to cancel the gentleman’s agreement with Japan mentioned earlier was voted down in Parliament. The government, to prevent resubmission of the draft, appointed a board of review for illegal immigrants on March 14. The meetings were held in strict secrecy in various locations in BC, with testimonies and names coming by mail. (In Vancouver, the meeting was held on March 24, 1938, in the Immigration Hall.) The chairman was Dr. Hugh L. Keenleyside from the Department of External Affairs. The members were Mr. F.W. Taylor, district superintendent of immigration, and Inspector G.W. Fish from the RCMP.
At the same time, responding to a question in Parliament, the government announced that for eight years, from 1930 to 1937, they had sent back the following number of people to Japan as illegal immigrants.
- 4 people
- 7 people
- 59 people
- 26 people
- 17 people
- 10 people
- 13 people
- 9 people
In late December, a Nisei pioneer expressed his opinion that Nikkei people were congregated only along the west coast and somehow that put us in a disadvantaged position. He thought it desirable that we spread ourselves across Canada. Some of those who were professional anti-Nikkei campaigners abused this remark and started the propaganda, “See, the Japanese are planning to take over the entire economy of Canada.”
Board of Review Report on Illegal Entry
In the middle of January1939, the board of review on illegal immigrants presented in its report to Parliament that the number of people who testified or reported illegal entry was unexpectedly small.
The following was an example of investigative results from about 100 Nikkei people.
Voluntary return 6 people
Sent home 23 people
Residential permit 4 people
Legal entry 36 people
False report 10 people
Residence unknown 21 people
Total 100 people
Besides this report, the results of an investigation by the Department of Immigration and the RCMP were included. According to this result, before 1932 there were about 3,000 illegal entries in total. Among them, about 1,500 cases were related to interpreters at the immigration office, and the other 1,500 were reported by other sources, including people who had run away from their boats. The breakdown was as follows.
Sent home 161 people
Residential permits 47 people
Voluntarily returned to Japan, afraid of arrest 2,300people
Residence unknown 400 people
Total 3,000 people
There were very few illegal entries after 1932, and the report concluded that the number of illegal entries were miniscule. There was no evidence of the mass illegal entries they were being accused of. Even though the results of various investigations proved them innocent, persistent anti-Nikkei propaganda continued.
A member of the BC Parliament submitted a written query:
“There is a rumour that under the supervision of the Japanese Navy, installations for hidden oil tanks are being dug somewhere in the Queen Charlotte Islands. I wonder if the government has investigated this rumour or not, if so, I ask the government to announce the result.” (This question was a friendly one, intended to stop the spread of irresponsible rumours.) Of course, the rumour was a false one, misinterpreting a trial mining dig. After that, there were people who spread the false rumour of a massive illegal entry operation based in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
A newspaper reported in late April that an alderman, who would be a candidate in the next election for the provincial Parliament, insisted on stopping Nikkei people from penetrating the fishing industry and again took up the issue of business licences with the city as if it were a huge problem. He came up with a set of unbelievable licence ratios and insisted that his intention was to maintain a high standard of living for Hakujin citizens, not to persecute Toyojin based on racial prejudice.
In early August, an alderman proposed that the city council attach covenants at the time of sales to properties the city owns (including residential lots) to stop them falling into the hands of Toyojin. By creating this covenant, regardless of whether it would be a civic trade or an auction, the covenant shall be inherited as a condition of the sale. By doing so, we would narrow the scope of the sales but protect them forever by making it impossible for Toyojin to own or rent them.
During deliberation, the legality of the eternal binding condition was questioned, and it was transferred to the Department of Law. It never surfaced again. Perhaps they realized that it could not be done. A week later, another alderman proposed that the council reject all new applications for commercial licences from Toyojin. Newspapers reported that the alderman had gone too far.
“If we make it clear to Toyojin that they have no opportunity to engage in commercial activities in our city, they will go home. I don’t care whether the refusal of the licences is against international law or human morality. The duty of city council is first of all to serve the future welfare of the citizens.”
This sort of proposal will never pass in council, but I suppose it was appealing to some segment of the population.
In the fall, by the order of Hon. George S. Pearson, commissioner of fisheries, the production of salted salmon was banned. Thus, salted salmon produced in Canada and exported every year to Japan disappeared. Chum salmon used to be used for the salted salmon, and now it was used for canning in order to increase food production. In a case like this, usually some kind of compensation was provided to the producers, exporters, as well as workers related to the industry. However, it seemed no such consideration was made in this case. The commissioner of fisheries also ordered the hiring, in the salt-cod factories, of more Hakujin or Dojin workers to render the number of Nikkei workers less than half. Thus, employment opportunities for Nikkei people were getting ever narrower.
According to a newspaper report, the November issue of Liberty magazine praised the State of California for noticing the yellow peril at an early stage and taking appropriate measures against it. In BC as well, many said that unless we considered excluding Toyojin from each industry, in three or four generations time it would be a Nikkei province. If we didn’t solve it now, the solution would be more and more difficult. Therefore, even with the expense of it, somehow we must find ways to deport and get rid of them altogether in a few years. Let them prosper in their ancestral land. That is the only way to stop future disasters.
I don’t think it is enough for some people to simply write in the abstract “persistent anti-Nikkei propaganda continued,” so I have written some of the concrete examples so far. If readers think I am stirring up racial hatred, that would be the complete opposite of my intention. To avoid this sort of misunderstanding, I will simplify hereafter.
Both in 1940 and 1941, similar kinds of anti-Nikkei propaganda continued. Of course, there were considerable numbers of people who rightly argued to give proper rights to Nikkei people. However, news media preferred to report sensational material, appealing to the mood of the times. These moral people could not correct the distorted view of many in the general public.
National Registration: Report of Dr. Carrothers, etc.
In 1940, from August 19 to the 21, national citizenship registration of those over 16 years of age was held. All Nikkei people participated and registered themselves. This registration was about people over 16 years old and does not reflect the total population of Nikkei. However, in February 1937, Dr. Carrothers investigated the issue of the Toyojin population for the Rowell-Sirois Commission, and according to this report the Nikkei population was as follows:
- 25,886 people
- 26,288 people
(Note: 1931 – 23,342; 1941 – 23,194; 1951 – 21,663)
And he added:
- The numbers above were calculated on the basis of Provincial Statistic Bureau of BC information that the total population of Nikkei was 22,205 in 1931.
- Recent immigration from Japan is miniscule, but the majority of immigrants are wives, so the birth rate is rising.
- If we estimate the total population of Nikkei at the end of this century with the present rate of increase, it would reach 180,000. However, in reality it won’t be that high because the birth rate will gradually decrease and on the other hand the death rate will increase.
(Note: If we take a look every 10 years at the Canadian census, it is obvious how sloppy Dr. Carrothers’s assumptions are.)
The population of Chinese Canadians:
- On the basis of a 1931 population of 27,139, we estimated that they would reach 21,740 people by 1936.
- In recent years, the entry of Chinese women was banned, and some old Chinese either went home or died from old age. Therefore, the rate of decrease in Chinese population was 25 per cent annually.
- The Chinese population would be zero in 15 years if we calculate it based on the above decreasing rate. However, in reality, the birth rate would gradually increase, preventing such a scenario.
In April of 1938, the Canada Japanese Association investigated the size of their population alongside their occupations. They announced the results as follows:
Naturalized citizens 2,316
Japanese nationality 7,381
There were some who investigated which result was more credible. Some thought the calculations of Dr. Carrothers, based on the 1931 Bureau of Statistics records, might lack the number of Nikkei people who went home. However, around the time of the above-mentioned national registration, those who were enthusiastic in spreading anti-Nikkei propaganda quoted those two differing results. They condemned the results of the Canada Japanese Association as sloppy and those of Dr. Carrothers as not credible and maintained that there were 30,000 Nikkei people, including illegal immigrants.
They claimed that Nikkei people educate their children differently in their language schools; therefore, they were not trustworthy.
“Don’t enlist them in the military.”
“Don’t give them the honour of participating in military training.”
“Watch out for their acts of spying.”
“Check illegal immigrants, and send them home.”
There was a great deal of noisy propaganda being spread.
Standing Committee for Special Registration of Nikkei People
The government, with the intention of stopping the negative propaganda, promised in early November to hold a special registration in the near future. Members of the standing committee were appointed to oversee registration as follows:
Chairman F.J. Hume, mayor of New Westminster
Member H.F. Angus, UBC professor
Member F.J. Mead, assistant commissioner, RCMP
Member M.F. Macintosh, Lieutenant General, MLA, BC
Member A.W. Sparling, DSD, GSD, Military Dist. No.11
(Special Note: On February 19, 1941, 12 Nikkei people were appointed by the government to the Standing Committee for Special Registration of Nikkei people.)
Prime Minister Mackenzie King issued a very careful statement.
The Statement of Prime Minister Mackenzie King
“In order to protect Nikkei people who are being unfairly treated, and at the same time to remove illegal Japanese immigrants if they exist in Canada, the government has decided to hold a special registration of Nikkei people. After consulting with Nikkei community leaders, a standing committee has been appointed to supervise this registration.
“At the national registration held last August, the question ‘Whether this was a legal entry or not’ was not included. This time we ask this question clearly, and will issue certification cards which will verify the status of those who entered the country legally and those who were born in Canada. We hope that by doing this we will eliminate any suspicions for good. At the same time, the government will take measures to protect law abiding Toyojin and their property from those who act selfishly, illegally, and are influenced by rumours and irresponsible opinions.
“Under the current circumstances, we cannot say there is no possibility of undue incidents, and the government will put off for now the conscription of Toyojin into the military. We ask them to contribute to the country through other venues.
“To deal with the issue of Toyojin creating turmoil in BC, we appointed the following people to be members of a special committee and had them review and analyze the issues. We have received a report from the following:
Lieutenant Colonel A.W. Sparling, DSD (convener)
Dr. Hugh L. Keenleyside, Counselor, Dept. of External Affairs
F.J. Mead, Assistant Commissioner, RCMP
Sir George Sanson, Ex Commercial Counselor, British Embassy, Tokyo
“There is a rumour in the street that in recent years many Toyojin are entering Canada illegally, but that is simply not true. We have received reports that whether they are immigrants or born in this country, the great majority of Toyojin citizens are completely loyal to Canada. The government shares this view. The important issues concerning the Toyojin in the province of BC are based on wrong information, which unjustly attacks the loyalty and rectitude of Toyojin. It is harmful to the public peace to have attacks, such as those of a few weeks ago, arousing public opinion. The government is satisfied that military and judiciary authorities are well prepared to deal with any possible disturbance. Therefore, the general public should understand that the government has made sufficient arrangements to deal with any situation.”
Despite Prime Minister King’s announcement, anti-Nikkei propaganda continued to be rampant in Vancouver.
At the end of January, because someone in city council persistently attacked Japanese language education, there was a meeting of enquiry to study educational policy and school conditions. Representing Japanese language schools, Principal Mr. Sato, Chief Officer Mr. Ishihara, and others attended the meeting. Some Nikkei representatives from the community also attended as observers. I heard that their answers and explanations were received favourably.
(Note: The chairman of this meeting was Alderman Jones, who was appointed to be a member of the Advisory Committee on Japanese Properties.)
Special Registration of Nikkei People
From March 4, 1941, a special registration was held under the supervision of the RCMP, first in Vancouver, then spreading to other places. After an investigation, white cards for Canadian-born Nikkei people, salmon-pink cards for naturalized Nikkei people, and yellow cards for those of Japanese nationality were given as certification.
The cards were carefully elaborated. On the front there was a photo of the cardholder, the date of registration, nationality, the seal of the RCMP, as well as the signature of the registration officer. On the back was the registration number, name, sex, occupation, age, height, weight, distinguishing characteristics, fingerprint, and signature of the cardholder. The polite, straightforward attitude of the staff made a very good impression on Nikkei people, especially the way they carefully wiped off ink after fingerprinting.
(Note: At this registration, they investigated family matters. Later on, I heard that the population of Nikkei stood at 23,427. This was the number reported to the government by the Special Registration Standing Committee.)
The Outbreak of the Pacific War and the Removal of All Nikkei People
On December 7, the Pacific War suddenly broke out. Fishing boats owned by Nikkei people, which had always been the target of anti-Nikkei propaganda, were impounded under the Naval Order of Impoundment in a relatively short period of time. Boat-owners cooperated, and crews went home safely through an arrangement with the RCMP. Later, a curfew was imposed on Nikkei people, and they could not go out after sunset. Their cars, hunting rifles, radios, cameras, and so on were temporarily confiscated by the police.
Anti-Nikkei agitators must have thought that this was a great opportunity to lift up nationalistic spirits. They drummed up the fighting spirit of the military, escalated anti-Nikkei propaganda, and intensified anti-Nikkei sentiment among the general public.
On the 25th, the British territory of Hong Kong fell. Before this fall, Canada had sent reinforcements where defence was generally considered to be militarily impossible. All survivors were captured as Japanese prisoners of war and sent to prison camps. I wonder what went through the mind of Prime Minister King seeing the parallel of Nikkei people in Canada and Canadian soldiers in Japanese camps.
Back in 1907, in spite of it being peacetime, a mob agitated by anti-Nikkei propaganda attacked and damaged Japan Town. The present prime minister, Mackenzie King, deputy minister of labour at the time, had a bitter experience investigating into the real circumstance of this riot. He must have been afraid that now, under wartime circumstances, someone might actually harm Nikkei people and if such awful things were to happen, the Japanese military might take revenge on Canadian soldiers. I think that the prime minister, after deep deliberation, concluded to send all Nikkei people to a safe place as soon as possible.
Due to the many years of anti-Nikkei propaganda, the general public everywhere was hesitant about receiving Nikkei people. (For the sake of simplification, I have not so far referred to this incident, but in July of 1939, someone politically important in Ontario called for the extradition of Nikkei people. Nowadays, Nikkei people can live safely anywhere, but in the beginning, when Nikkei people started spreading to the prairies and eastern Canada, most places accepted them only temporarily to supplement the shortage of labour on condition of them returning to BC after the war.)
Except for a few cases, most Nikkei people accepted the Order for Removal of Nikkei people by the government, followed the instructions of the BC Security Commission, and gradually moved. On October 31, 1942, evacuation from the coast was completed. What warmed my heart during this move was the demonstration of mutual help among Nikkei people, who endured hardships in the places they were sent to. I was also deeply moved by the sincere efforts of young people.
Thus, most Nikkei people safely moved to the interior of BC, with a considerable number of families being sent to southern Alberta. Some Nikkei men who were sent to a road construction camp in the beginning somehow found a way to reunite with their families in their places of evacuation. Government staff in charge of the removal felt it was a job well done, but as a consequence of the removals, a lot of Nikkei properties were left in the hands of the Custodian.
Anti-Nikkei agitators took this opportunity to proclaim, maliciously, that all property belonging to Nikkei people should be disposed of to prevent their return to the west coast. They also said that they should all be sent back to Japan after the war whether they liked it or not and regardless of whether they were naturalized or Canadian-born. With these campaigns, Nikkei properties, on top of the damages incurred from being vacant, were suffering from theft and break-ins. The Custodian, in an effort to stop the increasing damages, concluded that there was no other choice but to liquidate them, an opinion he shared with the government.
The government, which had made every effort to ensure the safety of Nikkei people, now faced the issue of their properties. They debated the Custodian’s proposal in a special cabinet meeting and decided to allow the liquidation due to the lack of an alternative. To minimize criticism toward liquidation sales by the Custodian, the government set up the Advisory Committee as an independent organization. That is the background to the events I covered in this article.
The Condition of Nikkei Properties in an Area Heavily Populated by Nikkei People
According to the zoning bylaws, the areas where the properties of Nikkei people were tightly packed were as follows: (I think these zonings remain the same.)
- In Alexander Street, the eastern half of the 100 numbers and the western half of the 200 numbers were commercially zoned. East of this was industrial zoning.
- Powell Street was the same as Alexander Street.
- East Cordova Street, the 100 numbers and the western half, the 200 numbers, were commercially zoned. East of them was industrial zoning.
- In Hastings Street, numbers up to 300 were commercially zoned. To the east was industrially zoned.
- The Fairview area was all industrially zoned.
Therefore, when someone demolished an existing building and tried to build a new one, he had to build conforming to the zoning or ask for an exemption of the zoning from the city. This was cumbersome. Or again, if we tried to sell a lot for a factory, under the circumstances when construction rates were down, that was not easy either. Among the old buildings, there were many that required repairs to conform under the Fire Prevention Act. In addition, buildings with rental contracts were shabby and appeared to be only temporary lodging quarters. To make things worse, under the circumstance of rampant anti-Nikkei propaganda trying to stop the return of Nikkei people, prices of the properties kept dropping. It was a very pessimistic state of affairs.
As I mentioned previously, I resigned from the Advisory Committee position on July 9, so I did not know the sale price of individual properties. It is not difficult to imagine that prices were generally far below what most Nikkei people had expected. That is to say, the underpinnings of their lives that they had worked so hard for, over long years, were to a great extent destroyed.
Concern about physical assaults was mitigated by virtue of the removal into camps. Losses from quick voluntary liquidations that didn’t go through the Custodian seemed to amount to a considerable sum. Furthermore, they endured emotional pain and hardships in the places they were moved to. There were very sad cases where mental worry and the result of enforced travel hastened death. There were cases of unexpected sudden death.
I would say that these miseries were the result of the war and the persistent campaign of anti-Nikkei agitators.
I heard from an elderly man that Mr. Tomekichi Honma’s appeal to obtain the right to vote was not successful because of the constitutional Natal Act. (Those who are not listed on the provincial voting lists do not have suffrage with the federal government of Canada.)
In May of 1936, four representatives of the Nikkei second generation, with a petition to present to the Parliamentary Election Committee, went to Ottawa to ask for change to the 1934 Election Act that would give voting rights to Nikkei people. They seemed to get a very sympathetic response and laid the foundation for voting rights, but that goal still lay in the distance.
As people actually encountered Nikkei people who had moved and spread all over Canada, they soon realized that past discrimination was unjust. They gradually came to know the true value of Nikkei people. The accumulated anti-Nikkei sentiment evaporated, and people became open and warm. The designation of BC’s west coast as a defence region was abolished, and distorted public opinions were replaced by more generous ones. In the end, the BC provincial government gave voting rights to Canadian-born and naturalized Nikkei people.
The Canadian federal government followed suit, and consequently, it became possible for Nikkei people to engage in professions it was not possible until then to consider because of lack of voting rights. Nikkei people endured many sacrifices, but now paths for success have opened up in various fields.
Letters Advising Resignation from the Advisory Committee on Japanese Properties
In regard to the liquidation of properties and assets owned by Japanese, it is hereby recognized that your appointment in the Committee runs counter to the general public opinion of your fellow countrymen in Canada. We advise you to resign from the post as soon as possible.
April 26, 1943
To Mr. Kishizo Kimura
From the Assembly for Protecting Properties Owned by Japanese in Kaslo
(Envelope) Examined By Censor
Japanese Property Owners’ Association
Mr. K. Kimura
#1012 Royal Bank Building
Office of the Custodian
Received May 5, 1943
Mr. Kishizo Kimura
I inform you that we had the following resolution at the General Assembly of Removed Japanese Property Owners in the Slocan District:
Resolution: Regarding the liquidation of the properties and assets owned by Japanese people, we consider that your acceptance of the Committee position runs counter to the general opinion of your fellow countrymen in Canada and we advise you to resign from the post as soon as possible.
The above resolution was adopted.
April 24, 1943
General Assembly of Removed Japanese Property Owners in the Slocan District
(Envelope) Examined By Censor
Mr. Kishizo Kimura
c/o Patricia Hotel
Received May 20, 1943
Examined By Censor