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book review

In The Three Pleasures, Terry Watada's recent novel set during the Japanese-Canadian internment period, acts of resistance in another light look like collaboration and vice versa. Witness to Loss takes up the issue of resistance versus collaboration through the memoir of Kishizo Kimura, a Japanese Canadian who sat on two controversial committees responsible for the dispossession of his community.

Kimura's 100-page memoir is an enigmatic text, in part because his reasons for writing it are debatable. Did he write to inspire pride – as he says, to let younger Japanese Canadians know his generation quietly resisted? Or does he write to absolve himself of the sense he betrayed his people? Kimura's account is boring in parts, but it is in these details that he reveals the sleight of hand by which a discussion of insurance policies, for example, morphs into the federal government's forced sale of Japanese Canadians' fishing vessels at below-market prices. Evil can indeed be banal. Accompanying are four commentaries, drawing out the implications of Kimura's text on Canada today.

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