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Thu May 2, 4:17 PM ET
By DEBORAH KONG, AP Minority Issues Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Japanese American Citizens League is planning a public ceremony to apologize for denouncing more than 300 Japanese-Americans who resisted the draft during World War II.
Those who resisted the draft did so to protest the internment of United States citizens of Japanese ancestry. They were condemned by other Japanese-Americans, including JACL leaders, who felt the protest sent the wrong message at a time when anti-Japanese feeling was already very high.
The ceremony is scheduled for May 11 at a community center in San Francisco. Mits Koshiyama, who served three years in prison for refusing to report to a physical examination for the draft, plans to attend.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Koshiyama, now 77. "The JACL has taken this long, over 50 years, to say that they were wrong in oppressing the resisters. Some things take an awful long time."
Koshiyama was sent to Heart Mountain Camp in Wyoming with his parents, three sisters and three brothers. In all, about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forced into 10 U.S. internment camps on orders from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1942, Japanese-Americans were classified enemy aliens. After that changed in 1943, some chose to serve in the military.
Koshiyama and others, however, refused to be drafted.
"It was unfair for the government to ask us to fight for democracy in a free world while I and my family were incarcerated," he said. The family was "denied the very things we were supposed to fight for. All we said was, 'Give us back our rights and we would be happy to serve.'"
The resisters were denounced by the JACL and others as traitors and cowards. In 1947, President Harry Truman pardoned wartime draft resisters, but Koshiyama said there is still lingering resentment toward the Japanese-American resisters.
"We're serious about trying to heal these wounds," said JACL district governor and event organizer Alan Teruya. "This is the type of reconciliation that should be done while those who are still alive can take part."
On the Net
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