Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities
Online ISSN : 2188-7276
Articles
Algorithmic Determination of Japanese Ethnic Identity Based on Name
Martin Holmes
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2018 Volume 3 Issue 1 Pages 73-97

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Abstract

The Landscapes of Injustice project is a multi-institutional seven-year research project funded by a Partnership Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project mission is to investigate, document, and analyze the process by which, beginning in 1942, tens of thousands of people of Japanese ethnicity were interned, and their property was seized and disposed of by the Canadian government and its agents. Part of this process involves identifying where Japanese Canadians were living and working prior to their internment, what property they owned, and how the dispossession affected them. This requires that we identify Japanese Canadian individuals across a range of different types of official and unofficial records, often based only on name, on a scale that makes an entirely manual process impractical. The project has therefore developed a semi-automated algorithmic approach to determining whether any name in the records is Japanese or not. This article describes the algorithm in detail, along with its application and limitations.

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© Martin Holmes
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