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Treatment of Japanese fishermen in Canada during World War II

Well, that started happening in January. Especially after Hong Kong, then I think they got a lot more agitation, agitated, and they thought something has to be... they started then, at that point, and I know, I'm sure it was probably true in the United States, that the military and the navy especially, thought the Japanese fishermen could be spies. I mean, they never did accuse anybody of being spies, but they said they could be a "fifth column," and that was the term that was very prevalent at that time, the idea of a fifth column being in the country. And that, that came from Hemingway's idea that there was another enemy within. And so they did that business of going around and checking up on all the Japanese fishermen, and eventually, by that time, by January, I think it was, in January, they ordered all Japanese fishermen to bring their boats down to the -- bring 'em in, they prevented them, they prohibited, first thing, they prohibited that they could not fish. That was the first thing. Then they brought, brought, told them all to gather in Prince Rupert harbor, and these boats were then told that they would have to travel down the West Coast and take their boats to the Fraser Valley. That's the, that's a journey with these small little boats, these putt-putt boats, that would take almost a week. 'Cause it, how far could they go? They could only go by day, and when the weather was good. So they did, took all the boats, took 'em down to the Fraser Valley, and all these boats were tied up on the, the delta, right on Fraser, in the Fraser River. It was a great, and there is a famous picture of all these Japanese fishing boats stretching on for, way into the distance, all tied up to each other in kind of a big v-shape. That these boats were there until they, they were sold. A lot of them were sold, about, in about two or three years' time.


boats fishing boats World War II

Date: July 25 & 26, 2006

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Tom Ikeda

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Henry Shimizu was born in Prince Rupert, B.C. in 1928 and was interned in New Denver during the war. After leaving the internment camp, he moved to Edmonton where he still resides. As a medical graduate, Dr. Henry Shimizu specialized in plastic surgery and has been active in the medical community by serving in numerous leadership positions. From 1989 to 2002, he served as chairperson of JCRF. He is an artist and has painted a number of scenes from his internment days. His works were exhibited in several communities. For his outstanding contribution to the community, he has received several awards including the NAJC National Award 1999, the University of Alberta Distinguished Alumni Award 2004 and the Order of Canada 2004. (July 26, 2006)

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