Monday, March 19, 2007

Japanese Canadians get on the bandwagon!

Remember how the beloved former mayor of Gresham, Oregon was slimed by the Japanese American Reparations Movement?

Check out what's happening up in Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver Building Renaming Aborted After Outcry From Canadian Nikkei
From the Nichi Bei Times Weekly March 15, 2007

By BEN HAMAMOTONichi Bei Times

Following months of deliberation and an outcry from the Japanese Canadian community, it was announced last month that a Vancouver government building would not be named after a member of Parliament with a racist past.

The controversy began last September when it was announced that a new environmentally-friendly government building in downtown Vancouver would be named after former Cabinet Minister Howard Charles Green. The naming committee had chosen to dedicate the building to Green for his service in World War I and his advocacy of nuclear disarmament. The late conservative member of Parliament, however, had a different reputation in the Japanese Canadian community.

Green is notorious to Nikkei in Canada for his racist attitudes during the World War II era. The National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) notes statements he made during the war, such as, “Orientals should be excluded from Canada” and “we won’t have Japs in the province.”
In defense of the proposed building name, many, including Conservative Senator Hugh Segal and Green’s family, argued that Green’s views were consistent with the time period.

The NJAC, however, feels that Green’s racism was exceptional in its malevolence.

Grace Aiko Thompson noted that when the Canadian government forcibly removed and incarcerated 21,000 Japanese Canadians, Green felt it was insufficient and called for their deportation. Thompson, the president of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens Association for Human Rights, added that she was troubled that Green never publicly reconsidered his racist views or issued an apology.

In response to the community outcry, Canadian Public Works Minister Michael Fortier, who says he was previously unaware of Green’s racist past, requested that the naming committee reconsider their choice.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the naming committee, which consisted of four people, was split evenly between those who wanted to keep the original name and those who wanted to look towards alternatives.

On Feb. 8, the capital government in Ottawa announced the building would indeed be renamed. Fortier said in a statement that he’s requested that a new volunteer committee submit a list of potential names.

“I’m elated,” activist Mary Kitagawa told the Province. “It has great impact on me because whenever we see this name it takes us back to internment and the suffering we experienced.”

Green died at the age of 93 in 1989.