Japanese Canadian veterans were honoured in a Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 9 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Five veterans from the Second World War and Korean War, along with their families listed to speeches from Min Yatabe, Frank Moritsugu and Tak Irizawa, as well as a playing of the Last Post by Kennedy Liddle and reading of In Flaunders Field by Timothy Takasaki. The ceremony was followed by a bento lunch, where veterans reconnected and shared old stories and photos with the younger generation in attendance.
Min Yatabe and his wife, Lydia Yatabe, enjoying a bento lunch after the Remembrance Day ceremony.
While there were five veterans at the ceremony, there were 211 Japanese Canadian soldiers that enlisted during the Second World War. Of those, 148 volunteers were included in the mass expulsion in British Columbia after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Most of these soldiers were send to Southeast Asia with British intelligence forces as interpreters for Japanese prisoners of war.
Second World War veteran, Frank Moritsugu, who has research the topic extensively, said in his speech, there were two nisei servicemen who were killed in the war. First was Minoru Tanaka of the Canadian Armoured Corps from Saskatchewan, who was killed in Europe when a German bomb hit the tank he was in. Second was Leading Aircraftsman Claude W. Mawatari of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
There were also three nisei servicemen who were injured in the war. Tamotsu Matsuoka with the Royal Canadian Engineers and from Alberta was injured by a grenade in Europe. Then there was George Suzuki and Fred Nogami, who were among seven of 23 men who survived when their flying boat bound for Hong Kong crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff.
Take a look at photos of the veterans, widows and their families during the ceremony and at the following luncheon. While there are certainly less Japanese Canadian veterans in these photos compared to past ceremonies, it makes it all the more clear the importance of honouring and remembering their contributions and legacies.