MOVEMENT INITIATED TO DESIGNATE NANJIN MASSACRE COMMEMORATIVE DAY SHOCKED THE NIKKEI COMMUNITY OF METRO VANCOUVER
A movement to designate NANJIN MASSACRE COMMEMORATIVE DAY in multicultural Canada, a nation that aims to embrace people of diverse backgrounds to live in harmony, has commenced in Vancouver and is sending a strong shock wave throughout the Nikkei Community. Japanese-Canadians experienced an injustice in the history of forced removal and confiscation of properties during the Second World War. The movement to designate a commemorative day of the Nanjin Massacre is an issue that can trigger the surfacing of a preconceived notion of discrimination. Early action on the part of the Nikkei Community is needed.
According to the May 16th Web page of Chinese newspaper Sing Tao, published in Vancouver, a petition to establish Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day has officially commenced on May 17th in Metro Vancouver. This movement was initiated by Jenny Kwan, a member of the Canadian Parliament and her intention is to collect more than 100,000 signatures from the citizens before October 10th to present to the parliament.
With this petition, she attempts to persuade the government to declare December 13th as Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day in hopes that people will note and reflect from the atrocities which Western eyewitnesses at the time described as “Hell on Earth.”
Signatures of the citizens are being sought at more than five locations in Metro Vancouver. This movement is supported by Canada ALPHA (Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WW II in Asia) and more than 100 civic organizations, including the Federation of Chinese Canadians, with the aim of generating aggressive activities in various regions throughout the nation.
In the event that the Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day is designated, the Japanese and Japanese-Canadians will be associated with the massacre. It is not hard to visualize that children will become the object of discrimination in some form or other. With the commemorative day being announced year after year, the damage of such a tarnished image will be felt for generations to come. The Japanese-Canadian Community must recognize this grave issue and let their opinions expressed.
Presently, Gordon Kadota, as a coordinator, has sent to leaders of the Nikkei Community organizations a letter calling for setting up a meeting to deliberate the issue as a grave matter for the Japanese-Canadian community. It is likely that a committee that is publicly recognized and with transparency, will be established to deliberate an effective approach to voice opposition to the designation. Notwithstanding, it is possible for individuals to express their views and protests to MP Kwan in English.
In December 2016 at the Ontario Provincial Legislative Assembly, Hong Kong bred member Soo Wong presented a bill to proclaim the Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day. Toronto ALPHA then initiated a wide spread signature campaign mainly amongst the Chinese community in such places as Chinese restaurants and shopping malls. Although the bill never got voted, again in October 2017, she put forward a motion calling for the same cause. While the motion is not legally binding, it was adopted in the presence of only a few participants without having any serious debate on its consequences.
The Japanese-Canadian community in Ontario voiced their opposition to this movement, and their reasons were as follows:
Q: Why do you oppose the establishment of the Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day?
A: Because we want Canada to remain a mature and tolerant society which will welcome people of various backgrounds. We want Canada to keep its strength as a country that accepts people of all races, irrespective of nationality, gender or religion.
1. A Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day does not promote respect for diversity; on the contrary it promotes hatred and intolerance. It goes against the realization of inclusive society based on multiculturalism that had been sought by the Government of Canada.
2. It is not in the interest of Canada to be a stage for controversy over a historical issue of 80 years ago that had been a source of tensions between two foreign countries for decades. Taking sides with one party will only aggravate the dispute. If Canada is to be involved, it should be as a facilitator of reconciliation and peace so as to guide the two countries to move forward and build cooperative relations towards the future.
3. It would be most counterproductive for Canada to damage the relationship with Japan. The citizens of the two countries have developed close ties in economic, cultural, and many other areas. Japan has established itself after the WW II as a firm peace-loving nation and a keen contributor in international cooperation. Japan and Canada have become valuable partners in contributing to the prosperity of the world.
4. Japanese-Canadians know what it is like to be persecuted in Canada. Japanese-Canadians once had to go through severe racial discrimination, internment and confiscation of properties. Through the redress movement, they greatly contributed in fostering multiculturalism and making Canada a nation of peace. Japanese Canadians do not want to feel persecuted again for events that happened outside Canada before many of them were born.
5. We, thus, oppose the establishment of a Nanjin Massacre Commemorative Day in Canada as it may again trigger segregation and discrimination.
In the Toronto petition campaign, there said to be many people who just signed as they were instigated, without having any knowledge of the background, and of potential discord and tensions it could bring in to the Canadian society. So, it is hoped that MP Kwan will make a wise decision to stop this campaign as soon as possible, which is divisive to the communities in Canada. Vancouver Shinpo will continue to provide updates on this issue.