Japanese Canadians

Japanese Canadians
Japanese Canadians
Total population
Regions with significant populations
British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec

Japanese, English and/or French


Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, non-religious

Related ethnic groups

Japanese, Japanese Americans, East Asians

Japanese Canadians are Canadians of Japanese ancestry, and are mostly concentrated on the west coast, and central Canada, especially in and around Vancouver and Toronto. In 2006, there were 98,900 (about 62,430 of whom are of mixed heritage).[1]



The term Nikkei (日系) was coined by sociologists and encompasses all of the world's Japanese immigrants across generations. Japanese-Canadians (and Japanese-Americans) have special names for each of their generations in North America. These are formed by combining one of the Japanese numbers with the Japanese word for generation (sei 世):

  • Issei (一世) - The first generation of immigrants, born in Japan before moving to Canada.
  • Nisei (二世) - The second generation, born in Canada to Issei parents not born in Canada.
  • Sansei (三世) - The third generation, born in Canada to Nisei parents born in Canada.
  • Yonsei (四世) - The fourth generation, born in Canada to Sansei parents born in Canada.
  • Gosei (五世) - The fifth generation, born in Canada to Yonsei parents born in Canada.


The first Japanese settler in Canada was Manzo Nagano, who lived in Victoria, British Columbia (a mountain in the province was named after him in 1977).[citation needed] The first generation, or Issei, mostly came to Vancouver Island and Fraser Valley from fishing villages on the islands of Kyūshū and Honshū between 1877 and 1928. Since 1967, the second wave of immigrants were usually highly educated and resided in urban areas.

Until the late 1940s, Japanese Canadians—both Issei and Canadian-born Nisei — were denied the right to vote. Those born in the 1950s and 1960s in Canada are mostly Sansei, third generation. Sansei who mostly have little knowledge of the Japanese language. Over 75% of the Sansei have married non-Japanese. Nisei and Sansei generally do not identify themselves as fully Japanese, but as Canadians first, who happen to be of Japanese ancestry.

The younger generation of Japanese Canadians born in the late 20th century are mostly Yonsei, fourth generation. Many Yonsei are of mixed racial descent. According to Statistics Canada's 2001 census of population information, Japanese Canadians were the Canadian visible minority group most likely to marry or live common-law with a non-Japanese partner. Out of the 25,100 couples in Canada in 2001 which had one Japanese person, only 30% had two partners of Japanese descent and 70% included one non-Japanese partner. As of 2001, 65% of Canada's Japanese population was born in Canada.


After the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan (Second World War), in 1942, Japanese Canadians were interned by the federal government as security threats by evoking the War Measures Act. 20,881 were placed in detention camps and relocation centres. 75% of them were Canadian citizens. A parallel situation occurred in the United States. (See Japanese American internment.)

After the war, the property and homes of Japanese Canadians living in province of British Columbia was seized and they were told by the federal government to either move to another province "East of the Rockies" or to go back to Japan.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, documents on the Japanese Canadian internment were released, and redress was sought. In 1986, it was shown that Japanese Canadians lost $443 million during the internment. 63% of Canadians supported redress and 45% favoured individual compensation. On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney provided $21,000 for each individual directly affected, that is, by 1993, almost 18,000 survivors. However, perhaps more importantly, was the Prime Minister's formal apology in the House of Commons and the certificate of acknowledgment of injustices of the past, which was sent to each Japanese Canadian who was displaced.

Prominent Canadians of Japanese ancestry

See also


  1. ^ a b "Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories - 20% sample data". Statistics Canada. 4 February 2008. http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/highlights/ethnic/pages/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo=PR&Code=48&Table=2&Data=Count&StartRec=1&Sort=3&Display=All. [dead link]
  2. ^ Order of Canada citation
  3. ^ Commonwealth and Foreign Awards, Masajiro Miayazaki, records reference, National Archives of Canada.
  4. ^ Cordileone, Elvira. "Kenzo Mori: An impact on two shores," The Star (Toronto). January 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Miller Thompson: David Tsubouchi

External links

  • Multicultural Canada website images in the BC Multicultural Photograph Collection and digitized issues of The New Canadian (Japanese-Canadian newspaper) and Tairiku Jiho (The Continental Times)

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