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British Citizens of Japanese Descent - what were their experiences like during WWII?

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  • British Citizens of Japanese Descent - what were their experiences like during WWII?

    Greetings all! Complete newbie here, but I hope to seek answers to a question that's been bothering me for some time.

    As stated in the title, is there anyone who knows anything at all about the Japanese-British experience during WWII? I think most of us know about the internment and relocation in the Americas, but I feel like very little is known about treatment of people of Japanese descent in Britain before, during, and after the war.

    Anyone who might be able to shed any light on this - whether with actual resources or their own individual knowledge - would be a lifesaver!

  • #2
    I know of only one a Mr Ohara - a Japanese journalist who had served in WW1 with the British Army on the Somme and later with the RFC/RAF as a sergeant pilot whilst remaining a Japanese citizen. He was still living and working in Britain in December 1941 and was allowed to continue doing so through the rest of the war. In general whilst enemy aliens were interned any one with British citizenship was allowed to go about their business regardless of their erthnic origins (although there would have been some brainless louts who might have thrown bricks etc) and would even have been liable for conscription.
    Last edited by MarkV; 28 Dec 15, 17:46.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't think they were a great many Japanese living in the UK. Most were living in British Asian colonies. Many Japanese in Malaya came out in uniform after the conquest of Malaya.

      In the US a lot depended on where one lived. If the Japanese were living on the West Coast, they were removed. In Hawaii, they were too numerous to remove and were vital to the labor supply, so they stayed. Japanese citizens in the US were offered repatriation to Japan. Not everyone took it. First and second generation descendants were treated better, but not always nice. I believe most second generation Japanese in Texas and Louisiana were allowed to stay and keep their property.

      American treatment of Japanese residents was harsh but look into the Niihau Incident and see why.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you very much for the replies, gentlemen!

        Originally posted by MarkV View Post
        I know of only one a Mr Ohara - a Japanese journalist who had served in WW1 with the British Army on the Somme and later with the RFC/RAF as a sergeant pilot whilst remaining a Japanese citizen. He was still living and working in Britain in December 1941 and was allowed to continue doing so through the rest of the war. In general whilst enemy aliens were interned any one with British citizenship was allowed to go about their business regardless of their erthnic origins (although there would have been some brainless louts who might have thrown bricks etc) and would even have been liable for conscription.
        That's incredibly interesting, and really quite cool to hear! I remember reading a bit on the Japanese who served with the British Army in WWI, so I find it fascinating - and lovely - that Mr. Ohara chose to stick around in Britain and was evidently allowed to!

        Your answer does help quite a bit, so thank you! Do you have any particular sources that mention how British citizens versus aliens (especially as it relates to people of Japanese descent) were treated during the time? I think that would definitely offer more clarity. Absolutely grateful for the reply!


        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
        I don't think they were a great many Japanese living in the UK. Most were living in British Asian colonies. Many Japanese in Malaya came out in uniform after the conquest of Malaya.

        In the US a lot depended on where one lived. If the Japanese were living on the West Coast, they were removed. In Hawaii, they were too numerous to remove and were vital to the labor supply, so they stayed. Japanese citizens in the US were offered repatriation to Japan. Not everyone took it. First and second generation descendants were treated better, but not always nice. I believe most second generation Japanese in Texas and Louisiana were allowed to stay and keep their property.

        American treatment of Japanese residents was harsh but look into the Niihau Incident and see why.

        Pruitt
        Agreed! (And no worries about the American side. I've read a lot on that, although thank you for the information about the Japanese second generation in Texas and Louisiana - I didn't know that! I do feel it must have been quite different from the British response to the situation, though, which is what is puzzling me. There seems to be nothing about it!) If I'm remembering correctly, it wasn't a very big community of Japanese people in Britain, but there were enough there that it's curious to me how they were treated in response to and how they themselves responded to the declaration of war against Japan. From what I'm gathering, though, it seems like they were a lot more well-received, in general, compared to in the Western part of the U.S.

        Thanks very much for the reply!

        Comment


        • #5
          I could give you a view of how the Japanese/Chinese/Burmese were thought/treat after the war. I promise you wouldn't like it, and I'd probably get me in trouble with the mods. It's a perfectly true story though, but then again, who wants real history... if it's not sanitised for these pc times we live in?

          The long toll of the brave
          Is not lost in darkness
          Over the fruitful earth
          And athwart the seas
          Hath passed the light of noble deeds
          Unquenchable forever.

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          • #6
            Ohara worked as British correspondent for a Japanese news organisation. I attach a photo of him in his RFC uniform.As I said British citizens of axis origin were not interned (unless they very overtly showed active support for the country of their birth) However those holding axis nationality could well be interned. There were unfortunately some quite nasty attacks on British citizens of axis origin - for example when Italy came into the war a number of Italian restaurants were smashed up by mobs even though their owners ware naturalised Britons and in at least one case had sons serving in the British Army.
            There were Japanese in the Irish Republic during the war. At least one Japanese passenger vessel finding itself in the Atlantic post Pearl Harbour made a run for the neutral port of Dublin. Patrick Campbell, the humorous writer and raconteur was serving as a volunteer with the Irish Marine Service at the time and has left an account of this. It was his job to board approaching ships and check the papers. If the ship was a genuine civilian vessel he was to fire a particularly coloured flare. If the flare was not fired and the vessel continued to approach the port a battery of field guns would open fire on it. On boarding the Japanese liner that December night Campbell discovered that he had forgotten to bring the flare gun and despite frantic appeals was unable to borrow a flare of the correct colour from the liner. Had the Irish Army opened fire on a Japanese liner it could well have resulted in Ireland finding herself in the war. As it transpired the lookouts at the battery were fast asleep.

            What happened to the passengers and crew I do not know. They would have found it very difficult to make their way back to Japan and I can only assume that they remained as refugees in Ireland until after VJ day.
            Attached Files
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

            Comment


            • #7
              Australian and Canadian citizens of Japanese descent were treated as if they were enemy aliens and subject to internment. The Canadian government later (much later) issued an apology but I don't think the Australians ever did. Some thousands of Peruvians of Japanese descent were arrested and shipped off for internment in the USA.

              Many Japanese Canadian volunteers served with the Canadian Army in a variety of theatres
              As well as serving in Italy Japanese Americans also served with the Indian Army against the IJA during the Imphal campaign whilst wearing US style uniforms,

              BTW did anyone know that Ian Duncan Smith former Conservative Party Leader and current cabinet minister had a Japanese Gt Grandparent?
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                Australian and Canadian citizens of Japanese descent were treated as if they were enemy aliens and subject to internment. The Canadian government later (much later) issued an apology but I don't think the Australians ever did. Some thousands of Peruvians of Japanese descent were arrested and shipped off for internment in the USA.

                Many Japanese Canadian volunteers served with the Canadian Army in a variety of theatres
                As well as serving in Italy Japanese Americans also served with the Indian Army against the IJA during the Imphal campaign whilst wearing US style uniforms,

                BTW did anyone know that Ian Duncan Smith former Conservative Party Leader and current cabinet minister had a Japanese Gt Grandparent?
                I expect the British interned them the same as they did with the Germans. A Family that lived close to my Parents of German descent disappeared almost overnight, very early in the war.They had an unfortunate name that did possibly not help matters,..Hess. lcm1
                'By Horse by Tram'.


                I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                  I could give you a view of how the Japanese/Chinese/Burmese were thought/treat after the war. I promise you wouldn't like it, and I'd probably get me in trouble with the mods. It's a perfectly true story though, but then again, who wants real history... if it's not sanitised for these pc times we live in?

                  Go for it tiger.
                  My worst jump story:
                  My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                  As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                  No lie.

                  ~
                  "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                  -2 Commando Jumpmaster

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                    I expect the British interned them the same as they did with the Germans. A Family that lived close to my Parents of German descent disappeared almost overnight, very early in the war.They had an unfortunate name that did possibly not help matters,..Hess. lcm1
                    Ouch
                    My worst jump story:
                    My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                    As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                    No lie.

                    ~
                    "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                    -2 Commando Jumpmaster

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      On another note, the British restricted the movements of Austrian and German Jewish Refugees in the UK. They seem to have been afraid there were a few German spies in the bunch.

                      In the US, Japanese in the West Coast were the only ones targeted as the US Army wanted them removed. I have read stories about Japanese families in Louisiana and Texas that were not haselled by the government and kept their property.

                      Nisei linguists were sent to India by the US Army. I can't say if any were used by Merrill's Marauders.

                      Pruitt
                      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 101combatvet View Post
                        Ouch
                        Yes it was wasn't it. I went to school pre war with one of the boys, they seemed a very normal family. lcm1
                        'By Horse by Tram'.


                        I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                        " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lcm1 View Post
                          I expect the British interned them the same as they did with the Germans. A Family that lived close to my Parents of German descent disappeared almost overnight, very early in the war.They had an unfortunate name that did possibly not help matters,..Hess. lcm1
                          AFAIK Britain did not in general intern its own citizens as I've already pointed out in an earlier post. German and Italians living in the country but who were not citizens were interned as enemy aliens, There were exceptions so that Oswald Mosely for example was interned although a British citizen but the legality of this was somewhat shaky and as a result on Churchill's orders, he was not put into a prison cell or a camp but confined to a rather comfortable cottage with two servants and his wife

                          There was a lad at my school whose parents were ethnic Germans who had come to Britain in the 1930s and been naturalised and they were not interned even though they also had an unfortunate name - Goring

                          Dame Myra Hess of course gave piano recitals in London throughout the war and also made regular broadcasts on the BBC

                          Ethnic Germans and Italians who were the descendants of immigrants but who were born in Britain were not interned and some were called up. Immigrants who had been naturalised and therefore British citizens were not interned but a close eye was kept on some of them, Many recent refugees were in fact interned usually on the Isle of Man.
                          Last edited by MarkV; 29 Dec 15, 10:20.
                          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            BTW, to save keystrokes:

                            Issei: People born in Japan and immigrated to a foreign country.

                            Nisei: People born to Issei parents.
                            Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                            Hyperwar, Whats New
                            World War II Resources
                            The best place in the world to "work".

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              On another note, the British restricted the movements of Austrian and German Jewish Refugees in the UK. They seem to have been afraid there were a few German spies in the bunch.

                              In the US, Japanese in the West Coast were the only ones targeted as the US Army wanted them removed. I have read stories about Japanese families in Louisiana and Texas that were not haselled by the government and kept their property.

                              Nisei linguists were sent to India by the US Army. I can't say if any were used by Merrill's Marauders.

                              Pruitt
                              See my post - they served with the Indian Army at Imphal and later in the advance through Burma
                              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                              Comment

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