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The case of Dr Masajiro Miyazaki: Japanese-Canadian healthcare in World War II

Abstract

The forcible relocation of Japanese-Canadians (Nikkei) during World War II has been widely examined; however, little scholarly attention has been paid to the impact of relocation on the medical services provided to, and by, the Nikkei. This article highlights the issue of providing sufficient medical care during forcible relocation and the experiences of one Nikkei physician, Dr Masajiro Miyazaki. His story illustrates both the limitations in the healthcare provided to the Nikkei community during relocation and the struggle for Nikkei medical professionals to continue their practice during the war. The agency of the Nikkei—who constantly balanced resistance and adaptation to oppressive conditions—comes to the forefront with this case study. Dr Miyazaki’s personal records of forcible relocation, as well as his published memoir, reveal aspects of the lived reality of one Nikkei physician who was not included in the government discourse, or in the dialogue among his fellow Nikkei physicians, such as inter-racial medical care. It is evident through this case that there was great diversity in the level of medical care which the Nikkei received during their relocation in Canada. Furthermore, Dr Masajiro Miyazaki’s story proves that healthcare professionals, from doctors to nurses’ aides who were both Nikkei and white, provided extraordinary medical services during the forcible relocation, despite significant constraints.

  • history
  • medical humanities
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