Discover Nikkei

Postwar Deportation Attempts

Now after the war, the government had some other nasty surprises. They tried to really get all of us deported to Japan. I mean, this was a very, rather sneaky program on their part. They said, the only way you're going to be able to hold your whole family together is if you go back to Japan. A little subterfuge in there, and they really tried to do this. And they were only stopped by a concerted effort by a lot of church groups, by a lot of civil libertarian organizations. Quakers, plus our own fight against it. So by that time, people were really appalled at what had happened to the Japanese. This whole thing of trying to get them sent back to Japan, they said it was repatriation, but repatriation has no meaning to me, because the patriot is Canada to me, and Japan is a foreign country, so what the hell are they doing sending me there?

So deportation is only accurate term for that. So that was our two choices, and we took the second option and settled in Chatham and that's where I grew up. Now that particular period, now everybody is shocked at this whole spectacle of the evacuation of a whole community that was almost overnight dispossessed of the cumulative wealth of a lifetime. Thrust into these camps. But I think it was that period immediately after the war, when the camps broke up and we were forced into isolated, small groups here and there. Plastered throughout the country, and Canada is a very big country.

resettlements repatriation Quakers postwar deportation

Date: February 9, 2011

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Patricia Wakida, John Esaki

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Tamio Wakayama was born in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1941 shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His family was among the 22,000 Japanese Canadian Nikkei who were declared to be Enemy Aliens, deprived of their property and confined in concentration camps by the Canadian government. The Wakayamas were sent to the Tashme camp in a remote part of British Columbia for the duration of World War II. At the War’s end, forced to choose between deportation to Japan or relocation east of the Rockies, the Wakayama family remained in Canada, eventually settling in a poor section of Chatham. Tamio’s neighborhood friends were black children descended from slaves who had escaped by way of the Underground Railway.

In 1963, Tamio left university studies and journeyed South to join the American Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, spending two years as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and beginning his photographic documentation of his experiences. Tamio’s work has been featured internationally at such prestigious venues as the Smithsonian Institution and his photographs have appeared in numerous TV and film documentaries, magazines, books, book covers and catalogues. Tamio has authored two major books and is currently working on a retrospective exhibit and a memoir.

He passed away on March 2018 at age 76. (June 2018)

Bain,Peggie Nishimura

Apprehension about leaving camp

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

Bain,Peggie Nishimura

Difficulties finding apartment in Chicago after leaving Minidoka

(b.1909) Nisei from Washington. Incarcerated at Tule Lake and Minidoka during WWII. Resettled in Chicago after WWII

Houston,Jeanne Wakatsuki

California housing shortage after the war

(b. 1934) Writer

Iwasaki,Hikaru “Carl”

Returning to San Jose

(1923 - 2016) WRA photographer

Hoshiyama,Fred Y.

Leaving a camp to attend college

(1914–2015) Nisei YMCA and Japanese American community leader


Able to settle easily in Los Gatos with foresight and luck

(b. 1935) Sansei businessman.


Grateful for The Quakers’ help in camp and finding jobs outside of camp

(b. 1923) Japanese American poet, activist