Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka collection


general material designation


Textual record and graphic material


13 cm textual materials and 1 photograph






scope and content


The collection consists of one series of textual material and documents, created and assembled by Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka, related to the forced removal of Canadians of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of Canada in 1942, the confiscation and sale of their property, and their dispersal and deportation from Canada in 1946, as well as the 1980s movement for redress of these injustices. The collection includes original documents written and compiled during 1941 to 1944, newsclippings from 1942 to 1946 as well as the 1980s, and a history of the Japanese Canadians written in the 1950s. Additionally the fonds includes one photograph portrait of Jitaro and Sumiko Tanaka.




Jitaro Tanaka was born November 27, 1905 in Shiga prefecture, Japan. His parents Jikichi Tanaka and Akuri Kawasaki had six children. About 1906 Tanaka's father Jikichi immigrated to Canada, coming to Vancouver. Jitaro Tanaka joined his father in Vancouver in 1911, aged five years old. Tanaka's wife to be, Sumiko Suga, was born in Vancouver April 5, 1912. Her parents were Kichitaro Suga and Hatsuyo Uyeno, who had come to Vancouver from Hiroshima; the family eventually numbered fourteen children.



Jitaro Tanaka completed high school in Vancouver followed by business school in Winnipeg, returning to Vancouver. Around 1926 he became involved in the furniture manufacturing business.



Tanaka played for the Asahi baseball team which won the Vancouver Terminal League Championship in 1926.



In 1932 Sumiko Suga and Jitaro Tanaka married, later having four children, Helen, Shirley, Charles and Ronald. During the Second World War, as a consequence of the attack on Pearl Harbour Dec. 7, 1941, Jitaro Tanaka along with Ippio Nishi was asked by the Spanish Consulate to act on behalf of Japanese Nationals living in Canada, shortly after the departure of the Consul-General of Japan.



In 1942 the Tanaka family was interned and arrived at Lemon Creek internment camp in November that year. Jitaro Tanaka travelled to the various relocation towns and road camps in British Columbia in his role as liaison during this unsettling period.



In November 1943, the Tanaka family moved to Montreal, and shortly after Jitaro resumed his activities in furniture manufacturing on a smaller scale. In Montreal he was active in the local Japanese Canadian Citizens Association, serving as president for a term.



Tanaka closed his business at age sixty-four and later moved to Mississauga, Ontario, in 1969, where he died in 1990. Sumiko Tanaka died in Toronto in 2000.








Nikkei National Museum