Page 10 of the chronicle compiled by the Tanakas, covering reported events on Feb. 18 and 19, 1942. Image information: “Chronicle by Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka, Dec. 7, 1941, through Oct. 16, 1944.” Collection: Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka Collection. Accession Number: 2002.2.1.1.1.10. Year: 1944.
By Hannah Babki
BURNABY — Among the community leaders who advocated for the needs of Japanese Canadians during the internment years was Jitaro “Charlie” Tanaka, an Issei man who with his wife, Sumiko, compiled a chronicle of the government restrictions imposed against Japanese Canadians and community responses made between Dec. 7, 1941, and Oct. 16, 1944.
During the war years, Spain was a neutral country and the Spanish Consul was in charge of overseeing the rights of Japanese nationals in Canada under the Geneva Convention. Jitaro acted as a translator and advisor for the Spanish Consul and used this chronicle as a primary reference.
The chronicle is 177 pages long and stored in two volumes. It is typed on hole-punched letter-sized pages and was created by retyping local newspaper articles, headlines, and organizational literature like pamphlets. Among the types of events recorded in this chronicle are: local and provincial government meetings, increasing restrictions imposed against Japanese Canadians, news from Nikkei in other provinces, and responses from local Issei and Nisei groups.
On page 10 of the chronicle, a stark description of the escalation of government measures shortly following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, presumably copied from newspaper headlines:
“February 18th, 1942. U.S. Aliens, also Nisei face evacuation… Vancouver City Council asks Ottawa for removal of all Japanese on Coast.”
“February 19th, 1942. Anything possible now……public feeling rises…events move fast.”
Each page of this chronicle is a reminder of the gradual and continuous violation of Japanese Canadians’ rights during the war years. It is also a testament to Japanese Canadians’ determination to gain fair treatment and justice for the discrimination they faced.
Explore the Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka collection at www.nikkeimuseum.org.