The Saga of the Japanese Canadians

On December 7, 1941 Japan launched an attack on an American naval base. This was horrifying not only to the Americans but to Canadians who were so close to America. Their fear of being bombed caused them to lash out. What they didn’t realize was that those they were lashing out at were also living in fear. Fear of being bombed, and now, fear of losing all they had ever known. The anti-Japanese sentiment in Canada grew after Pearl Harbor and the government decided to do what was necessary against those they thought were a threat to the nation’s security despite them never having been an actual threat. 22,000 people were moved and of that 75% were Canadian-born citizens.

The choices the government made against the Japanese can never be fully justified yet it can be understood why they did what they did. The nation was at war with Japan and they had Japanese men, women and children living in their midst. The people were scared, and when people get scared they do things they wouldn’t normally do. In this case, it was the blatant racism and inequality shown by both the government and the people toward the japanese.

“Let our slogan be for British Columbia: No Japs from the Rockies to the seas!”

 

Yes, rights were taken away and lives uprooted but to the people, the government was protecting them, and to the government, it was their job to protect the nation and they would do whatever was necessary to uphold this.

The way Canadian POW were treated does not justify the treatment of Japanese-Canadians. The fear and the threat of a Japanese invasion is not reason enough for what the government did. Many japanese that were seen as a threat were not even born in japan. They were born in Canada and had never even been to japan.  One deportee said, “I am a Canadian. I cannot speak the language…”. In Canada they were seen as the enemy because they were of Japanese descent and in Japan they were seen as, “…Canadian and an enemy.” These were Canadian citizens that the government treated like criminals. Their lives were turned upside down and never fixed. These Canadians were not convicted of anything. They had done nothing wrong, and their only crime was being of Japanese descent.

The $21,000 compensation given to japanese Canadians acknowledges that what the government did was wrong and it should not have been done. But that is all. That is all it can ever do; acknowledge what had been done and show remorse. This can never truly make up for what has been done and the lives ruined. It doesn’t change the past or erase the treatment of these people and their families. All we can do is try and learn from our decisions and strive for a better more equal future.

 

Lowering the voting age in Canada.

 There are many people in Canada who believe that the legal voting age should be lowered form 18 to 16. They believe that because they feel if teens are expected to have the same responsibilities as adults then they should have the same rights too. On the other hand, not lowering the voting age would keep young teens from voting blindly on matters they don’t understand. I believe the voting age should stay the same for the following reasons.

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 Young teens do not have the life experience needed to make decisions regarding government. Lowering the voting age would not only give them a say in matters that do not affect them, but would widen the pool of un-informed voters. Teens do not have enough knowledge of how the government system works and how to choose who to vote for. Also, youth do not have the same problems or issues as adults and thus should not be given the same say. Young minds are also more impressionable and can be easily influenced. When it comes to making important decisions about government policies, adults should lead the youth, not vice versa.

Some adults today do not vote, simply because of lack of interest. If this is the case, then why do some assume that those still in high school would have any interest in government policies. In the last 2011 federal election only 38.8% of voters aged 18-24 voted and if the age limit was lowered that number would be even lower. If those who are seen as adults don’t vote then why would students who are not yet legally adults take out the time to vote? The youth are not interested in voting, and whether or not we lower the voting age, the un-interested simply do not vote. 

Young teens do not have the need to vote nor would they. When it comes to matters of the government, the youth does not need to have say in what should happen. Most 16 year old do not have the maturity, interest or knowledge of politics to make an informed decisions about issues regarding government. Even if the voting age were to be lowered, teens would not vote, and if they did, it would most likely not be an informed vote. However unlikely, their un-interested and uniformed votes could alter the course of an election. 15% of people are more likely to vote as they ageImage

 It’s important to remember that most 16 year olds have never needed to think about the future of their children nor the money for their retirement. The voting age should stay the same, not because all teens are immature and oblivious when it comes to government, but because they just don’t have the same need or obligation to vote as those that are older. If not voting does not affect them directly, then why burden them with another responsibility that they don’t need and will most likely not fulfill.