The Case of Dr Masajiro Miyazaki Japanese-Canadian Healthcare in World War II

Article Summary by Leticia B. Johnson

This article uses the memoir of one Japanese-Canadian physician, Dr. Masajiro Miyazaki, in combination with government records and correspondence, to show the complexity of Japanese-Canadian provisions of health care amidst the ethnic community’s internment during the Second World War. Dr. Miyazaki’s memoir represents the disparity between Japanese-Canadian recollections of medical care during World War II internment and the government record of such. Limitations in the health care services provided to the Japanese-Canadian community and a struggle for Japanese-Canadian medical professionals to continue their practice during the war are central themes within Dr. Miyazaki’s memoir and other Japanese-Canadian’s recollections. Recognizing these experiences of internment alter our understanding of Japanese-Canadian internment as a whole. For instance, Dr. Miyazaki both crossed racial boundaries and provided a service that necessitated people crossing racial boundaries to seek his aide. He was one of the Japanese-Canadian physicians that provided the best care they could to their community during this time of racialized segregation. He was among those whose efforts contributed to the successful operation of visible, western-style modern health care facilities that enabled the federal government to claim sufficient health care provisions were put in place during internment. A lack of examination of these experiences and facets of internment in Canadian historiography has left us with a limited understanding of the experience of internees, and a fragmented knowledge of health care services and realities for Canadians, including those of Japanese descent, at this time. An in-depth examination of Dr. Miyazaki’s memoir offers one method of correcting this gap in our knowledge of these events occurring beyond the battlefields of the Second World War.

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