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‘My land is worth a million dollars’: How Japanese Canadians contested their dispossession in the 1940s

Abstract

On July 31, 1944, Rikizo Yoneyama, a former resident of Haney, British Columbia, an agricultural area east of Vancouver, wrote to the Canadian Minister of Justice to protest the sale of his property. Two years earlier, when he and his family had packed their belongings for their forced expulsion from coastal British Columbia, they could take with them only what they could carry and, like other displaced people, they left much behind. “I realize that we are the victims of a war emergency and as such are quite willing to undergo … hardship … to help safeguard the shores of our homeland,” wrote Yoneyama, “however, I do urgently desire to return to my home … when the present emergency ends. May I plead your assistance in the sincere request for the return of that home?” When letters like his did receive a response from the federal government (there is no record that he did so in this case) it came in the form of standard letter, acknowledging that “the disposal of … property will be a matter of personal concern” but informing Japanese Canadians that, in conformity with a new federal law, everything, including their homes, would be sold.

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jstross@uvic.ca
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He has published widely on the history of race, migration, and inequality in North America, including recent articles in BC Studies and the Journal of Planning History. Nicholas Blomley is a professor of geography at Simon Fraser University and is a member of Landscapes of Injustice. He has published widely on the geographical dimensions of law, particularly real property.

To acknowledge the centrality of collaboration in Landscapes of Injustice, a 7-year partnership project supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to unearth and tell the history of the dispossession of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, publications and presentations that make substantial use of project resources include the Research Collective as a named co-author. On this policy, see: http://www.landscapesofinjustice.com/collective-co-authorship/.

The authors thank the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Contested Property Claims conference (Aarhus, Denmark), the Canadian Historical Association, and the Pursuit of Knowledge series of the University of Victoria for previous opportunities to present and discuss this work. The authors also thank readers Eric Adams, Martin Bunton, Kaitlin Findlay, Douglas Harris, Audrey Kobayashi, and Hildy Ross. For research assistance, particularly in coding letters, the authors thank Michael Abe, Stewart Arneil, Josie Gray, Ariel Merriam, and Hildy and Michael Ross, and, for locating additional sources, Lisa Uyeda, Linda Kawamoto Ried, and Sherri Kajiwara at the Nikkei National Museum. For mapping, the authors thank Reuben Rose-Redwood and Sonja Aagesen, and they especially thank Tine Kjølsen, whose home, full of Danish hygge, provided the space that allowed them to develop the initial ideas. Finally, the authors give particular thanks to Harold Yoneyama, who was immediately open to and enthusiastic about this work, as well as to the Landscapes of Injustice Community Council for its unwavering support.

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1. Singer Joseph, “Democratic Estates: Property Law in a Free and Democratic Society,” Cornell Law Review 94 (2009): 1054.

2. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July 31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, Microfilm Reel C9476, Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property, Vancouver Office: Office Files, Héritage Project, Canadiana.org (hereafter: C9476, Custodian, Heritage Project).

3. See, for example, a letter that Yoneyama received to an earlier inquiry: W.E. Anderson to Rikizo Yoneyama, July 4, 1944, Image 1452, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

4. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July 31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

5. The seminal treatment of the property sales as exemplary of Canadian racism is Sunahara Ann Gomer, The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War (Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1981), ch. 8. See also: Jordan Stanger-Ross and the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective, Suspect Properties: The Vancouver Origins of the Forced Sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned Property, WWIIJournal of Planning History 15 (2016), 271–89, and Stanger-Ross Jordan, “Telling a Difficult Past: Kishizo Kimura's Memoir of Entanglement in Racist Policy,” BC Studies 181 (2014): 3962 .

6. Our work can be compared to recent scholarship in a wide variety of national settings that explores attachments to property and homes in the face of displacement and dispossession and that has sought to place “the lived experiences of the displaced or dispossessed people at the centre of the discussion” (O'Mahony Lorna Fox and Sweeney James A., “Re-thinking Responses to Displacement and Dispossession,” in The Idea of Home in Law: Displacement and Dispossession, ed. O'Mahony and Sweeny [Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2011], 211). Nield Sarah, “Article 8 Respect for the Home: A Human Property Right?King's Law Journal 24 (2013), 169–70; Smit AnnekeThe Property Rights of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: Beyond Restitution (New York: Routledge, 2012); Dean Martin, Goshler Constantin, and Ther Philipp, eds., Robbery and Restitution: The Conflict over Jewish Property in Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007); Leckie Scott, ed., Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons (New York: Transnational Publishers, 2003); and Porteous Douglas and Smith Sandra Eileen, Domicide: The Global Destruction of Home (Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 2001).  Although it is essential to recognize the specificity under which dispossession occurs, this literature is useful in alerting the reader to the significance, complexity, and pluralism of people's attachment to land and assets, echoing that of Japanese Canadians.

7. Oikawa Mona, Cartographies of Violence: Japanese Canadian Women, Memory, and the Subjects of the Internment (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013).

8. Without diminishing these injustices, they need to be situated within the particular context in which they unfolded. It is important to note that in British Columbia the historical context of property relations is especially problematic, given that the property regime rests on unceded indigenous land (Tennant Paul, Aboriginal Peoples and Politics. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1990). Nonetheless, this is the cultural and political context within which Japanese Canadians built their lives and understood their losses.

9. The War Measures Act, in force from 1939 to 1945, empowered the federal cabinet to pass laws as Orders-in-Council, without the approval of the legislature. Similar powers were extended after the war as the federal government steered demobilization. The uprooting, internment, dispossession, and deportation of Japanese Canadians—along with dozens of other policies regulating their lives (and those of other Canadians)—were enacted as Orders-in-Council. For a useful discussion of the War Measures Act and Japanese Canadian challenges to their treatment during the 1940s, see Izumi Masumi, “Lessons from History: Japanese Canadian Civil Liberties in CanadaThe Journal of American and Canadian Studies 17 (2000): 124 .

10. Adachi Ken, The Enemy That Never Was: A History of the Japanese Canadians (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1976); Sunahara, The Politics of Racism; and Roy Patricia, The Triumph of Citizenship: The Japanese and Chinese in Canada, 1941–67 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007). For a comparative treatment of policies in the Unites States and Canada, see: Robinson Greg, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009). For a similar summary of these events that is also linked to the letters of protest, see: Jordan Stanger-Ross, Pamela Sugiman, and the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective, “Japanese Canadians in the Second World War” in Canadian History: Post-Confederation (Open Textbook Project), John Belshaw ed., 2016. https://opentextbc.ca/postconfederation/chapter/japanese-canadians-in-the-second-world-war/ (accessed May 30, 2017).

11. Draft to His Excellency the Governor General in Council, February 28, 1942, File 3464-q-40, vol 3005, RG25, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (hereafter LAC). Prior to this point, selected forms of property had been seized and, in some cases, sold by the federal government, most notably fishing vessels (see Stanger-Ross, “Telling a Difficult Past”). Order-in-Council 1665 was the first to take into consideration all of the property of uprooted Japanese Canadians.

12. Telegraph from Austin C. Taylor to Ian Mackenzie, February 28, 1942, File 67-2(1): Vancouver Centre: Japanese in BC, 1942, Vol. 24, Ian Mackenzie Fonds (MG27 III-B5), LAC; and Letter to Prime Minister from Ian Mackenzie, March 2, 1942, File 67-2(1): Vancouver Centre: Japanese in BC, 1942, Vol. 24, Ian Mackenzie Fonds (MG27 III-B5), LAC.

13. Order-in-Council PC 1942–2483, File 2531G, Vol 1752, RG2 A-1-a, LAC. For criticism of 1665, see: Note for the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, March 2, 1942, File 3464-q-40, vol 3005, RG25, LAC; “A Country Editor Views Evacuation,” The New Canadian (Vancouver), March 17, 1942, 2; and “Anti-Orientalism and Anti-Semitism Alike” The New Canadian (Vancouver), March 20, 1942, 2.

14. Adams Eric, Stanger-Ross Jordan, and the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective, “Promises of Law: The Unlawful Dispossession of Japanese CanadiansOsgoode Hall Law Journal 54, 3 (2017).

15. Order-in-Council PC 1943–469, File 2710G, Vol 1789, RG2 A-1-a, LAC.

16. See Sunahara, The Politics of Racism, ch. 8 and Stanger-Ross and the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective, “Suspect Properties.”

17. Belshaw John Douglas, Becoming British Columbia: A Population History (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 57.

18. Rigenda Sumida, The Japanese in British Columbia (MA thesis, University of British Columbia, 1935); Switzer Ann-Lee, Gateway to Promise: Canada's First Japanese Community (Victoria, B.C: Ti-Jean Press, 2012); Fukawa Masako and Fukawa Stanley, Spirit of the Nikkei Fleet: BC's Japanese Canadian Fishermen (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour, 2009); Ayukawa Michiko Midge, Hiroshima Immigrants in Canada, 1891–1941 (Vancouver; Toronto: UBC Press, 2008); Takata Toyo, Nikkei Legacy (Toronto: NC Press, 1983); and Adachi, The Enemy That Never Was, ch. 1–8.

19. Toyo Takahashi to the Department of the Secretary of State, April 12, 1944, Image 1339–1440, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

20. Tomio and Akira Yokoyama to the Department of the Secretary of State, March 2, 1947, Image 1713, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

21. P. Douet to F.G. Shears, September 11, 1944, Image 1492, Microfilm Reel C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. This means that the staff of the Custodian of Enemy Property curated the collection of letters that we analyze and discuss; it includes only letters that they recognized as protests. The collection is thus implicitly dialogical, reflecting the claims of Japanese Canadians that were found meaningful by bureaucrats. The much larger task of understanding the full correspondence between Japanese-Canadian property-owners and the federal state, a correspondence that comprises some 15,000 case files and well over 100,000 pages, lies outside the scope of this article. A glimpse of the important research possible in the analysis of this larger record is available in: Ariel Merriam and the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective “‘Our Appreciation for All Your Goodness and Kindness’: Power, Rhetoric, and Property Relations in the Dispossession of Japanese Canadians” Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective Working Paper #1, April 4, 2016 http://www.landscapesofinjustice.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Ariel-Merriam-Thesis.pdf

22. F.G. Shears to K.W. Wright, February 27, 1947, file 55908, part 2.2, RG 117, LAC (first of two letters of that day).

23. F.G. Shears to K.W. Wright, February 27, 1947, file 55908, part 2.2, RG 117, LAC (second of two letters of that day).

24. Final Report of the Royal Commission to Investigate Complaints of Canadian Citizens of Japanese Origin who Resided in British Columbia in 1941, That Their Real and Personal Property had been Disposed of by the Custodian of Enemy Property at Prices Less than the Fair Market Value, RG 14, D2, Vol. 559, LAC.

25. Sunahara, The Politics of Racism, 151–60.

26. National Association of Japanese Canadians and Price Waterhouse, Economic Losses of Japanese Canadians after 1941 (Vancouver: Price Waterhouse, 1986).

27. This assessment estimated the economic harms to Japanese Canadians at approximately $1,000,000,000 CAD, in 2017 dollars. However, this is a highly conservative valuation, particularly when it comes to real estate, which rapidly increased in market value in the 1950s and beyond.

28. “Acknowledgement,” Nikkei National Museum, 2013-35-2-4-2.

29. Porteous J. Douglas, “Domicide: the Destruction of Home,” in The Home: Words, Interpretations, Meanings, and Environments, ed. Benjamin David N. (Ashgate, 1998), 153.

30. Forrest Emmanuel La Violette, The Canadian Japanese and World War II: A Sociological and Psychological Account (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1948), 203, 214. For a discussion of La Violette, see Robinson Greg, After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), ch. 2.

31. Adachi, The Enemy That Never Was, 261; Takata Toyo, Nikkei Legacy (Toronto: NC Press, 1983), 141. See also: Miki Roy, Redress: Inside the Japanese Canadian Call for Justice (Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2004), 8788 .

32. Oikawa, Cartographies of Violence, 106.

33. Ibid., 231.

34. Alexander Gregory and Peñalver Eduardo, An Introduction to Property Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). In 1991, Daniel Kahneman, Jack L. Knetsch, and Richard H. Thaler, described the fungibility of property as “one of the first lessons in microeconomics,” a lesson that has been significantly unsettled by their own research. See, Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo BiasThe Journal of Economic Perspectives 5 (1991): 196.

35. In the discussion that follows, we interpret the claims of Japanese Canadians in the context of a body of property theory rooted in Europe and North America, although often applied outside of these contexts. This approach seems to us appropriate, given that most Japanese-Canadian immigrant property-owners had been in Canada for at least three decades prior to the uprooting, and that 60% of the uprooted population was born in Canada. Further, as we will discuss, the statements of Japanese Canadians about their property closely align with these theoretical insights. However, another, separate and valuable analysis might try to untangle (or explore the commingling) of these conceptions of property with those that prevailed in Japan during the period of mass migration. The authors thank Audrey Kobayashi for this observation.

36. Kahneman, et al., “Anomalies.”

37. Alexander and Peñalver, An Introduction to Property Theory, 211.

38. Singer, “Democratic Estates,” 1054.

39. Peñalver Eduardo, “Land VirtuesCornell Law Review 94 (2009): 829.

40. Peñalver Eduardo, “Property's Memories,” Fordham Law Review 80 (2011): 1072. See also Grubbstrøm Ann, “Emotional Bonds as Obstacles to Land Sale—Attitudes to Land Among Local and Absentee Landowners in Northwest Estonia,” Landscape and Urban Planning 99 (2011): 3139 ; Flemsaeter Frode and Setten GunhildHolding Property in Trust: Kinship, Law, and Property Enactment on Norwegian Smallholdings,” Environment and Planning A 41 (2009): 2267–84.

41. Radin Margaret Jane, “Property and Personhood,” Stanford Law Review 34 (1982): 9571015 .

42. Radin, “Property and Personhood,” 959.

43. See Adams et al., “Promises of Law.”

44. Risa Ono to George Peters, August 4, 1944, Image 1458, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

45. Because some authors wrote more than once, the number of authors is lower than the number of letters. These numbers are based on 292 letters that we were able to read/code. There were several illegible letters. A small number of letters (26) included second authors, some of whom had separately authored letters themselves. Second authors have not been included in the total count of 247.

46. Adachi, The Enemy that Never Was, 242–43.

47. F.G. Shears to K.W. Wright, February 27, 1947, file 55908, part 2.2, RG 117, LAC (first of two letters of that day).

48. The voluminous records of the Bird Commission represent another valuable site where Japanese-Canadian property-owners expressed their views of their losses. However, the narrow terms of reference of the Commission and its tightly structured hearings severely limited the opportunity for free self-expression.

49. The gender of letter writers could be determined for 193 letters.

50. Oikawa (Cartographies of Violence) analyzes the importance of the multiplicity of internment sites and experiences.

51. The case files of the Custodian of Enemy Property and the files of the postwar “Bird Commission,” both available at the Library and Archives of Canada and soon to be digitally available via the Landscapes of Injustice Project, would be especially valuable in this kind of analysis.

52. We thank Pamela Sugiman for this suggestion. Hundreds of interviews of Japanese Canadians are digitally available online, thanks to the Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection, a collaboration of the Nikkei National Museum and Simon Fraser University <http://digital.lib.sfu.ca/johc-collection> (accessed May 30, 2017). The Landscapes of Injustice Project will soon make available an additional collection focused on the topic of property loss.

53. See the Héritage project of Canadiana.ca (heritage.canadiana.ca), Microfilm Reel C9476, starting from image 1329.

54. Three researchers working closely together did this coding. We began with thematic categories rooted in our reading of the scholarship on Japanese-Canadian experiences (therefore, for example, [1] racism, [2] citizenship, and [3] betrayal of trust were themes that we looked for), our reading of property scholarship (therefore, for example, [1] exchange value and [2] sacrifice were themes), and a preliminary reading of the letters (therefore, for example [1] consent and [2] consult were themes). Our initial process was for all three researchers to read the same fifty letters and to code them according to our draft codebook. Thereafter, we met to check accuracy (coding was identical in more than 90% of cases) and to discuss adjustments to the codes and categories that should be added. Thereafter, the researchers each coded one third of the letters. Accuracy was checked again in a sample of letters afterward, and remained high (meaning that our researchers were all coding in the same fashion). Our analysis is based on twelve themes that appeared in at least 5% of the letters (represented in Figure 3).

55. See Table 1.

56. Alexander Gregory, Commodity and propriety: competing visions of property in American legal thought, 1776–1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

57. Alexander GregoryProperty as ProprietyNebraska Law Review 77 (1998): 667702 . at 697.

58. Rose Carol, “‘Takings’ and the Practices of Property: Property as Wealth, Property as ‘Propriety,’NOMOS 33 (1991): 223–47.

59. Becher Debbie, Private Property and Public Power: Eminent Domain in Philadelphia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

60. Ibid., 18.

61. A. Masuhara to Office of the Custodian, March 9, 1947, Image 1717, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

62. Sakae Takenaka to Custodians Office, May 12, 1944, Image 1372, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. Takenaka also invoked democratic principles in her letter, a topic that we address in our discussion of consent below. “We have suffered enough injustices and for a country that has boasted of its democratic principles I think this sale was very unfair,” she wrote.

63. Asa Amemori to F.G. Shears, April 21,1944, Image 1348 and Yoichi Okuma to Office of the Custodian, July 3, 1944, Image 1425, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

64. Yoichi Okuma to Office of the Custodian, July 3, 1944, Image 1424, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

65. Shig Kato to Custodians Office, December 4, 1946, Image 1677, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

66. Yoichi Okuma to Office of the Custodian, July 3, 1944, Image 1424, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

67. Rokusaburo and Mitsuye Taniguchi, July 31, 1944, Image 1445–1446, Image 1424, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

68. Mrs. Toshiye Hoshiko to Office of the Custodian, October 22, 1944, Image 1524, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

69. Blomley Nicholas, “Performing Property, Making the World,” Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 27 (2013): 2348 ; Seed Patricia, Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World, 1492–1640 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

70. Rose Carol, Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory and Rhetoric of Ownership (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), 296.

71. Ibid., 285.

72. C. Kobara to Department of the Secretary of State, undated (January 1947), Image 1683, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

73. Kisaku Nishimoto to F.G. Shears, August 9, 1944, Image 1629, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

74. Kisaku Nishimoto to F.G. Shears, August 9, 1944, Image 1629, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

75. H.K. Naruse to The Custodian‘[sic] Office, July 26, 1947, Image 1782, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. See: Radin, “Property and Personhood.” Naruse also decried the sale of his land without his consent. We will examine more closely letters that combined these two grounds of protest in our next section on interweaving consent and exchange.

76. See: Becher, Private Property and Public Power.

77. Masahiro Sakamoto, August 25, 1944, Image 1478, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. This letter was not, strictly speaking, the protest of a sale, as Sakamoto was uncertain whether his property had yet been sold or not. However, the Custodian filed it with the protest letters, perhaps anticipating that the investments it expressed were not recognized in the forced sale.

78. Toshio Oki to F.G. Shears, August 12, 1944, Image 1461–1462, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. This letter also protested the sale of the land without his consent. See the following section.

79. Yoshi Nikaido to Department of the Secretary of State, September 17, 1947, Image 1798, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project. On similar themes, see Flemsaeter and Setten “Holding Property in Trust.” This letter also protested the sale of the land without his consent. See the following section.

80. T. Maruno and K. Kinoshita to the Custodian of Enemy Property, June 13, 1943, Image 1330, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

81. C. Kobara to Department of the Secretary of State, undated (January 1947), Image 1683, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

82. Toyo Takahashi to the Department of the Secretary of State, April 12, 1944, Image 1339–1440, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

83. Shig Kato to Custodians Office, December 4, 1946, Image 1677, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

84. Becher, Private Property and Public Power, 202.

85. Custodian, June 21, 1944, Image 1414, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

86. Mrs. Kane Tanaka to Office of the Custodian, July 18, 1947, Image 1778, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

87. Yaozo Nomura to Office of the Custodian, June  21, 1944, Image 1416, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

88. Tsurukichi Mishima, August 19, 1944, Image 1474, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

89. In almost 40% of “consent” letters, the authors made no mention of sale price, a figure that significantly exceeds, from a statistical perspective, the number we would expect. See Table 1.

90. Singer, “Democratic Estates,” 1010; and Joseph Singer, “Property as the Law of Democracy,” Duke Law Journal 63 (2014): 1299.

91. Singer, “Democratic Estates,” 1062, our emphasis.

92. Shichitaro Odagaki to Office of the Custodian, November  24, 1944, Image 1533, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

93. Matsujiro Ryujin to Department of the Secretary of State, May 8, 1944, Image 1360, Suejiro Mori, May 9, 1944, Image 1366, Otomatsu Mukai, June 6, 1944, Image 1396, Kashiro Akai to Department of the Secretary of State, July 25, 1944, Image 1439, Haruo Maeda to Custodian, undated (circa September 1944), Image 1489, and Ryukichi Miyake to Office of the Custodian, October 25, 1944, Image 1526, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

94. See: Becher, Private Property and Public Power, 8.

95. Joseph Singer, “Property as the Law of Democracy,” 1287–335.

96. Tatsuo Onotera to F.G. Shears, July 10, 1944, Image 1429, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

97. Singer Joseph, “Things That We Would Like to Take for Granted: Minimum Standards for the Legal Framework of a Free and Democratic SocietyHarvard Law and Policy Review 2 (2008): 141.

98. Aya Suzuki to P.H. Russell, January 18, 1944, Image 1334, Kazue Kasubuchi, May 8, 1944, Image 1362, Y. Okita for Gihachi Ito to The Custodian's Office, May 20, 1944, Image 1382, Takeo Yoshida to P. Douet, February 12, 1946, Image 1596–1597, and Isamu Kai to The Custodian's Office, February 27, 1947, Image 1708, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

99. Isamu Kai to The Custodian's Office, February 27, 1947, Image 1708, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

100. Sajiro Wakita to George Peters, July 12, 1944, Image 1431, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

101. Chieno Kurgyama to Department of the Secretary of State, May 14, 1945, Image 1578, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

102. James Hasegawa to George Peters, February 12, 1945, Image 1558, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

103. Takeo Yoshida to P. Douet, February 12, 1946, Image 1596–1597, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

104. Aya Suzuki to George Peters, September 23, 1944, Image 1499, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

105. See Images 1468, 1470, 1472, 1484, 1494, 1497, 1516, 1555, 1562, 1573, 1574, 1576, and 1584, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

106. Ryushi Koyanagi, August 5, 1944, Image 1460, Tokuji Hirose to Department of the Secretary of State, April 22, 1944, Image 1350, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

107. Aya Suzuki to P.H. Russell, January 18, 1944, Image 1334, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

108. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July  31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

109. Yoneyama Yutaka Harold, An Evacuee's Memoir (Toronto: Pro Familia Publishing, 2008), 330 .

110. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July  31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

111. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July 31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

112. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July 31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

113. Adachi, The Enemy that Never Was, 319.

114. Rikizo Yoneyama to Minister of Justice, July 31, 1944, Image 1448–1449, C9476, Custodian, Héritage Project.

115. Whereas approximately 1,700 parcels of real estate were sold, virtually all Japanese Canadians lost some property in the context of their uprooting. The Custodian of Enemy Property itself had more than 15,000 property files, which means that chattels were a more significant aspect of its business—the business of dispossession—than real estate itself.

116. Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly and Rochber-Halton Eugene, The Meaning of Things: Domestic Symbols and the Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 5589 .

117. Mrs. Tsurukichi Takemoto to H.F. Green, September 5, 1946, Image 1634, Custodian Records, Reel C9476, Héritage Project.

118. Sunahara, The Politics of Racism, ch. 8.

119. Alexander and Peñalver, An Introduction to Property Theory, 32–33.

120. It is with caution that we can compare the policy and experience of dispossession in this case with that of the state expropriation of property, particularly through what would be termed the exercise of “eminent domain” in the United States.  There are valuable points of comparison in the manner in which such losses are evaluated (See: Smit AnnekeMaking Up for the Loss of ‘Home’: Compensation in Residential Property Expropriation,” in Public Interest, Private Property: Law and Planning Policy in Canada, ed. Smit Anneke and Valiante Marcia [Vancouver: UBC Press, 2016]; Becher Debbie, Private Property and Public Power: Eminent Domain in Philadelphia [New York: Oxford University Press, 2014]). Some of the actions of the Canadian state in this case (notably financial compensation) seem to echo expropriation procedures. However, it should be noted that Canadian expropriation practice is quite distinct from that in the United States (for example, there is no constitutional protection of private property, nor is there is a “public use” justification in statute—cf. Smit Anneke” Expropriation and the Socio-Economic Status of Neighbourhoods in Canada: Equal Sharing of the Public Interest Burden,” Oñati Socio-Legal Series 5 [2015]: 258–79—although the basis for compensation is ambiguous—cf. Warchuk Paul, “Rethinking Compensation for ExpropriationUBC Law Review 48 [2015]: 655–92). Further, we would argue that the process whereby Japanese Canadians were dispossessed cannot be thought of as a form of “expropriation.” First, the development of the policy itself was clearly distinctive, as detailed previously, shaped by the fiduciary relationship of the Custodian to owners. The subsequent shift toward dispossession also had a distinctive logic. Second, the clearly racialized character of the policy, the lack of any clear public good, and the territorialized manner in which it was exercised marks it as distinctive. As is evident here, the experience of owners, who were not only dispossessed, but also uprooted and interned, cannot easily be compared with that of the disgruntled owner experiencing eminent domain.

121. Becher, Private Property and Public Power, 230–31.

122. Atuahene Bernadette, “Dignity Takings and Dignity Restoration: Creating a New Theoretical Framework for Understanding Involuntary Property Loss and the Remedies Required,” Law and Social Inquiry 41, 4 (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/lsi.12249 (accessed May 30, 2017).

123. Ziqubu Ndabe, “What Do Claimants Get Out of Restitution?AFRA News 61 (2006): 811 , quoted in Smit, The Property Rights of Refugees and Internally Displaced People, 193.

124. For the former perspective, see CBC Vancouver Television News, January 16, 2016, http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2682083326/. For a sense of historical divides over this issues within the Japanese Canadian Community, see Miki, Redress. May 30, 2017

125. See Sugiman Pamela, “I Can Hear Lois Now: Corrections to My Story of the Internment of Japanese Canadians—‘For the Record,’” in Oral History off the Record: Toward an Ethnography of Practice, ed. Sheftel Anna and Zembrzycki Stacey (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 149–67.

126. Audrey Kobayashi, “Emigration from Kaideima, Japan, 1885–1950: An Analysis of Community and Landscape Change” (PhD diss., UCLA, 1983).

127. Yoneyama, An Evacuee's Memoir, 189.

He has published widely on the history of race, migration, and inequality in North America, including recent articles in BC Studies and the Journal of Planning History. Nicholas Blomley is a professor of geography at Simon Fraser University and is a member of Landscapes of Injustice. He has published widely on the geographical dimensions of law, particularly real property.

To acknowledge the centrality of collaboration in Landscapes of Injustice, a 7-year partnership project supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada to unearth and tell the history of the dispossession of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, publications and presentations that make substantial use of project resources include the Research Collective as a named co-author. On this policy, see: http://www.landscapesofinjustice.com/collective-co-authorship/.

The authors thank the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Contested Property Claims conference (Aarhus, Denmark), the Canadian Historical Association, and the Pursuit of Knowledge series of the University of Victoria for previous opportunities to present and discuss this work. The authors also thank readers Eric Adams, Martin Bunton, Kaitlin Findlay, Douglas Harris, Audrey Kobayashi, and Hildy Ross. For research assistance, particularly in coding letters, the authors thank Michael Abe, Stewart Arneil, Josie Gray, Ariel Merriam, and Hildy and Michael Ross, and, for locating additional sources, Lisa Uyeda, Linda Kawamoto Ried, and Sherri Kajiwara at the Nikkei National Museum. For mapping, the authors thank Reuben Rose-Redwood and Sonja Aagesen, and they especially thank Tine Kjølsen, whose home, full of Danish hygge, provided the space that allowed them to develop the initial ideas. Finally, the authors give particular thanks to Harold Yoneyama, who was immediately open to and enthusiastic about this work, as well as to the Landscapes of Injustice Community Council for its unwavering support.

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
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