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Impact of World War II on Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians: Comparative and Contemporary Perspectives

May 31, 2010

Above: Greg Robinson, History, l’Université du Québec à Montréal, and Masako Iino, Professor and President of Tsuda College, Tokyo, Japan, spoke about Japanese confinement in Canada during World War II at this year’s Day of Remembrance Program. Photo by Shihou Sasaki, The North American Post.

Scholars of Executive Order 9066 and the incarceration of Japanese Americans have often passed over the wartime removal and confinement of Japanese Canadians. Yet a study of the many similarities and differences in the experiences of persons of Japanese ancestry across the 49th parallel is not only intriguing in itself but provides a greater and more balanced perspective on a number of questions relating to the treatment of ethnic groups in both countries. Perhaps most importantly, a comparative analysis of the two treatments reveals the character of law, society, and race relations in the two countries.

This year’s Day of Remembrance was chaired by Gail Nomura with opening remarks by Tetsuden Kashima and Stephen Sumida, American Ethnic Studies. Guest scholars Greg Robinson and Masako Iino provided a background on the Canadian experience.

Dr. Robinson, Associate Professor of History at l’Université du Québec à Montréal and internationally recognized scholar of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians, is the author of A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (2009). He is also known for his groundbreaking work on Japanese communities in Québec and relations between Japanese Canadians and French Canadians. Robinson provided an overview of the similarities and differences between Canada and the United States in their respective treatment and disposition of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans during World War II.

Dr. Iino is President and Professor of Tsuda College in Tokyo, Japan. She has the distinction of being the first woman and first scholar outside of North America to win the Governor General of Canada’s International Award for Canadian Studies in 2001. Professor Iino has authored or co-authored numerous important books in Japanese and English on Canadian and United States studies, including Mutual Hostages: Canadians and Japanese during the Second World War (1990).

This program was funded by the UW American Ethnic Studies Department; the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle, Washington; and the Canadian Studies Center’s Title VI grant, U.S. Department of Education, Office of International Education and Graduate Program Services.