Conscience and the Constitution

Letter to the Editor
Rafu Shimpo and Pacific Citizen, April 12, 2002

by Frank S. Emi
Member, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee

This is in response to Sus Satow’s wild, fallacious statements in his Vox Populi article in the Rafu Shimpo dated April 11, 2002 regarding the "Resisters of Conscience".

I have never read more inaccurate, misleading and irresponsible garbage on this subject than this latest article by Satow.

I was one of the organizers of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee (FPC) which mounted the only organized constitutional challenge to the drafting of inmates of the concentration camps, so I am fully aware of what transpired at that camp. I can say with absolute certainty that there was no harassment, intimidation, threats or beatings of volunteers or draftees at Heart Mountain. In fact, some FPC members did respond to the draft. We had no problem with that. That was their choice and we respected them for it.

Satow makes the statement that, "I have had personal experience and knowledge of what transpired in that period of history, some 59 years ago, I was in Poston Relocation Center, Camp 2 where riots and beatings of JACL leaders took place. What we veterans object to is this ‘now’ generation, with no appreciation of the past, seek to ‘honor’ them for their action."

What's the relevance between the draft resisters and his statement? 59 years ago would be 1943 and there were no draft resisters. Some JACL leaders who were informants for the Government were beat up (read the Lim report), but not by any "draft resisters."

Satow's next statement, "The claim is made that they answered ‘Yes-Yes’ on the loyalty questionnaire. That is a farce because if they had originally done so, Selective Service would have called them up along with those who had volunteered to fill the ranks of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the MIS. What actually happened was that the Resisters originally answered ‘No-No’ on the loyalty questionnaire."

To refute that statement, the army was opened to Nisei VOLUNTEERS ONLY on January 28, 1943. Selective Service was not implemented in the camps until January 14,1944, so there was no way that the resisters could be drafted during the time period that Satow alleges. Also, the Heart Mountain resisters answered "Yes-Yes" to the loyalty questionnaire. Get your facts straight Satow.

He blithely continues his barrage of misinformation by stating that "The top leader (referring to Kiyoshi Okamoto) was removed from Heart Mountain and incarcerated at the Tule Lake Segregation Center which would indicate he was a "No-No." The fact is, he was a "Yes-Yes" and was removed from Heart Mountain because he was the Chairman of the FPC and was perceived by the WRA as a "trouble maker" because of his outspoken stand on civil rights.

Continuing, Satow states, "The second man in command was a graduate of Meiji University. Since he had fluent command of the Japanese language, his assignment was to reach out to the Issei parents of draft-age Nisei to discourage compliance with the Selective Service Act."

Satow was referring to Mr. Kubota who was neither "second in command" nor a member of FPC as only U.S. citizens were eligible for membership in our organization and Mr. Kubota was not a U.S. citizen. He had nothing to do with the policies of the FPC. He translated our English articles into Japanese for the benefit of the Japanese speaking parents of the young men.

He next makes the following idiotic statement referring to the resisters. "It was reported the inmates sang patriotic Japanese songs in unison - and it wasn't "God Bless America." What rubbish! Most of the young men could hardly speak Japanese much less know or sing Japanese songs.

It is amazing how Satow can make such wild misstatements and accusations and expect the reading public to take his statements seriously. His type of outbursts as a veteran does not enhance the image of the Nisei veterans. On the contrary, individuals like Satow and organizations like the Sacramento VFW Post 8985's effort to bully the JACL to cancel the apology ceremony only tends to diminish their stature in the eyes of the public.

Enough is enough with the lies and misinformations by irresponsible people and organizations. Get a life!!

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Updated: April 29, 2002