Archives: Prime Minister apologizes to Japanese-Canadians

This day in Vancouver history: Sept. 22, 1988

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologizes in the House of Commons to Japanese-Canadian survivors and their families for the forced mass relocation of approximately 22,000 people, most of them from the Vancouver area, from their homes and subsequent internment in special camps under the War Measures Act. “Military necessity” was used as a justification by Prime Minister MacKenzie King for the decision despite the fact that senior members of Canada’s military and the RCMP had opposed the action, arguing that Japanese-Canadians posed no threat to national security.

“I know that I speak for Members on all sides of the House today in offering to Japanese Canadians the formal and sincere apology of this Parliament for those past injustices against them, against their families, and against their heritage, and our solemn commitment and undertaking to Canadians of every origin that such violations will never again in this country be countenanced or repeated,” said Mulroney.

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He also announced a compensation package including $21,000 to each surviving internee, and the re-instatement of Canadian citizenship to those who were deported to Japan. The agreement also awarded $12 million to the National Association of Japanese Canadians to promote human rights, and $24 million for the establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to push for the elimination of racism.

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