I had during my seafaring days a chance to rub shoulders with Nisei, and get to really know some of them. My very first encounter was sad to say at the funeral of an American seaman from the S/S Penn Transporter named Art Swanton in New Kandla, a port on the West coast of India on December 5, 1962, where I lead the funeral service for a fellow seaman, because we were strangers in a strange land so far from home.
After the funeral, I was invited by the skipper of the S/S Penn Transporter to come aboard his ship for the wake, where I met the Chief Engineer Mr. Inouye, who had been in an internment camp during World War II, who told me that he was the brother of Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii.
The second time I met a Nisei was when my ship docked in Yokohama, Japan. We were talking to the ship chandler and the electrician while talking to the chandler just asked him where he learned to speak English so well. And the reply that he was given by the chandler was, I am born and educated in California and interned during the war. After the war I came to Japan. I, ribbed my friend the electrician about his ignorance about Nisei and he was really annoyed with me.
After that, I met many Nisei in my travels and got along with them. So, I started to bone up on Nisei culture and find out what happened to them in North America during World War II in the internment camps.
In the U.S. the Government realized the error of its ways, and recruited Nisei making them into the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, which became the most decorated unit for its size. Sure I also read about internment Camp Manzanar, Owens Valley, California, and, Camp Minidoka, Twin Falls, Idaho and 8 Internment Camps spread out across the U.S. for Japanese-Americans. While I do feel rancor at the attitude of the US. government towards American Japanese, they were at least given better treatment than those Japanese Canadians in Canada in their internment camps.
When the government of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King passed laws against Nisei in Canada, he went in-depth, to the point of open racism, by interning a blonde hired boy with a Scandinavian name, because he had Japanese blood in his veins through his ancestors. And that one drop of Japanese blood, made him Japanese enough to be put into an internment camp. Which proved that Mackenzie King like it or not was a closet racist and a Liberal at the same time. That precedent was set by the Mackenzie King Liberal Government in 1942, but was never implemented, or applied to include the Franco-Amerindians in Canada who have Native blood in their veins and set in motion by precedent should rightly be included among the Native tribes, rather than Canadians off European origins. Thus, the Liberals of Canada are really more racist than the South Africans that they accused of Racism, during the days of Apartheid in the Republic of South Africa. But much closer to the present time, the Liberals were hinting that the Conservative government of Stephen Harper were racist because of them not wanting to implement a programme to bring in refugees from Syria.
Kenneth T. Tellis