Conscience and the Constitution


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See our full page devoted to the JACL apology to the Heart Mountain resisters and watch a 70-second video clip of Heart Mountain resistance leader Frank Emi's remarks on May 11, 2002. Even as the Japanese American Citizens League was apologizing to Emi and others for its suppression of wartime resistance, he was challenging the group to go further and address the question of its wartime collaboration with incarceration [requires free Quicktime Player]. The links below are for news coverage that was available online as of June 7, 2002:

If you can bear to read them, here is a near-complete list of links to recent opinion columns, letters to the editor, claims and counterclaims provoked by the Nisei Resisters of Conscience of World War II Recognition and Reconciliation Ceremony on May 11, 2002 iin San Francisco. The articles below appeared in slightly different forms in the Pacific Citizen, Nichi Bei Times, and Rafu Shimpo newspapers. The key article may be the last one, provided by scholar Eric Muller.

"An Open Letter to the Draft Resisters, Their Supporters and the National JACL Leadership," by Loren M. Ishii
Pacific Citizen, March 15- April 4, 2002

Nichi Bei Times, March 16, 2002

"Regarding the VFW, the JACL and the Draft Resisters,"
by Takasumi Kojima
Nichi Bei Times, March 23, 2002 

"Who Are The Resisters of Conscience?" by Sus Satow
Pacific Citizen, April 5-18, 2002
Rafu Shimpo, April 11, 2002

"Reply to Sus Satow," 
by Frank S. Emi, Member, Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee
Nichi Bei Times, April 12, 2002

"The JACL Image and the Resisters of Conscience Ceremony," 
by Fred Oshima, Nichi Bei Times Columnist 
Nichi Bei Times, April 12, 2002 

"Donations Show Support for Resisters Ceremony, Organizers Say," by Tracy Uba, Pacific Citizen Writer/Reporter
Pacific Citizen, April 19-May 2, 2002

"Who are the Resisters? An Answer," by Mits Koshiyama
"Letter to the Editor"
by Steven J. Doi
Nichi Bei Times, April 30, 2002

"The Final Word From a Nisei Post" by Loren M. Ishii
"Commander's Column," by Loren M. Ishii
Nichi Bei Times, May 1, 2002 

"To Resist or to Comply: A Human Dilemma," by Eric L. Muller
special to the Pacific Citizen, May 3-16, 2002
Nichi Bei Times, May 2, 2002

Stories about apologies from JACL or veterans groups

"JACL Votes To Apologize to Nisei Resisters of World War II"
By Sam Chu Lin
Rafu Shimpo and Asian Week, July 7, 2000

"N2K Conference Apologizes to Resisters, Asks JACL to Do Same"
by Martha Nakagawa
Pacific Citizen, May 5-11, 2000

"Interfaith Group Urges Healing in Resisters Issue: Religious Groups Accept Blame, Call on JACL to Apologize to Resisters of Conscience"
by Kenji G. Taguma
Nichi Bei Times, Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Text of the resolution passed at the interfaith religious event at the "Nikkei 2000" conference
April 30, 2000, Radisson Miyako Hotel, San Francisco

"CCDC Rejects National JACL’s Reconciliation Resolution With Resisters of Conscience"

by Martha Nakagawa
Pacific Citizen, Sept. 3-9, 1999

"Apology for WWII imprisonment debated"
By Marcos Bretón
The Sacramento Bee, August 6, 1999

"Debate over interned `resisters' reopens painful wartime wound"
by Donna Kato
San Jose Mercury-News, July 31, 1999

A test of loyalty, patriotism and constitutional rights that divided Japanese-Americans 55 years ago is once again threatening to resurrect resentments that many thought were quietly buried in the past.

"Analysis: A Look at JACL's Role During WWII, Stance on Resisters"
Martha Nakagawa
Pacific Citizen, July 16-22, 1999

Confusion surrounding JACL's role during World War II has been cropping up during the current debate on whether or not national JACL should pass a resolution of reconciliation with the Nikkei resisters of conscience.

Reconciliation Coming Slowly for Draft Resisters
Martha Nakagawa
Pacific Citizen, March 5-12, 1999

It's an issue that still divides the community. Fiftysome years ago, 315 draft resistors, most notably the 85 Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee members, challenged the United States government during World War II. They resisted volunteering for the U.S. armed forces until they and their families were released from concentration camps and restored their constitutional rights.

For this, many in the Nikkei community ostracized and vilified the resisters, labeling them as "disloyal Americans." Ironically, some of these same resisters would go on to serve in the Korean War.   While the rift in the community is still visible, some of the very groups whose members once denounced the resisters are slowly extending the olive branch of reconciliation.

JACL District to Hold Program on Nisei Draft Resisters
Nichi Bei Times, Thursday, January 28, 1999

Hawaii Vets Recognize Nisei Draft Resisters
Nichi Bei Times, Wednesday, August 19, 1998

OAHU, Hawaii - In a groundbreaking attempt for reconciliation for one of the most divisive Japanese American community issues, a Hawaii Nisei veterans group has decided to recognize and honor those who refused to comply with a government draft order during World War II.

Stories about the resisters today

"Decades On, a Legacy Of War Still Haunts Japanese-Americans"
The Wall Street Journal, June 25, 1999

Draft Rift Lingers 50 Years Later
Los Angeles Times, Friday, March 12, 1993

Frank Emi said no.  He refused to fight for freedom and democracy overseas while denied it at home.

George Yoshinaga said yes. Like thousands of his generation, he left his mother and sister behind in an American internment camp and marched off to war.

Half a century later, the wounds have not healed. One of Emi's fellow draft resisters will not speak publicly about what happened because his wife's memories of being taunted by neighbors still make her sob. Some of the resisters are unwilling to have their names published. Some have not even told their children what happened back then.

The Loyal Opposition
San Jose Mercury-News, West Magazine, January 31, 1993

ON A CHILLY SPRING MORNING IN the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming, a young man rises before dawn to pack. Noiselessly, so as not to disturb his parents and sisters who sleep just a few feet away. He folds a few days' worth of T-shirts and underwear, a couple of clean shirts and a change of trousers. Practical things go into the small suitcase. Nothing sentimental. Nothing valuable. Not that he has anything precious here, anyway.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

`Are you David Kawamoto?` the FBI agent asks.


''I'd like to talk to you.`

Continue this article here (external link)

Reviews and interviews on the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and the production of the video documentary, "Conscience and the Constitution."


"Documentary Brings Out The 'Rest of the Story'"
by Wayne Maeda 
Nichi Bei Times,
December 15, 2000

"Documentary explodes myth about Japanese-American internment" 
by John Levesque (Seattle P-I TV critic)
Seattle Union Record, December 7, 2000

"WGBH buries worthwhile documentary about internment of Japanese Americans
by Robin Washington  (3 1/2 stars)
Boston Herald, November 29, 2000 

TV REVIEW: "Conscience and the Constitution"
by Sharon Maeda, General Board of Global Ministries web site
The United Methodist Church
, November 27, 2000

"'Conscience and the Constitution' premieres at the VC FilmFest 2000"
by Greg Pak News, May 23, 2000

Features and interviews

"Prisoners of Conscience"
by Heather McKinnon
Seattle Times, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2000

"The Resisters
by Treena Shapiro
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, November 30, 2000

National Public Radio "All Things Considered
interview with Robert Siegel
November 30 (requires RealPlayer plug-in)

treaming video clip from KCTS Connects
November 30, 2000 (requires RealPlayer plug-in)
For an interview by Enrique Cerna with Producer/Director Frank Abe and Minidoka resister Frank Yamasaki, move the slider 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the 29:15 minute show.  We appear after the glass harmonica player. 

"Draft protesters tell story of courage
by L.A. Chung
San Jose Mercury-News, November 28, 2000

"Loyal Opposition
by Kie Relyea
Bellingham Herald, November 14, 2000

"Film on Japanese-American Resisters"
Associated Press Writer, May 22, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Frank Abe was studying the history of World War II in high school, he never understood how 120,000 Japanese-Americans let
themselves be herded into internment camps and held for years without putting up a fight.  Now he knows the answer — some did resist.

"Documentary honors interned resisters"
San Jose Mercury-News, August 4, 1999

FRANK ABE belongs to the original "model minority" -- Japanese-Americans. It's supposed to be a compliment, but my sansei friends gag whenever they hear it. Many Americans, I think, need to believe in the myth of an obedient and completely assimilated minority. Abe is out to destroy it.

"Japanese Americans' internment resistance noted in documentaries"
San Francisco Examiner, Monday, July 5, 1999

As Americans celebrated the nation's birthday Sunday, Mits Koshiyama's thoughts turned to patriotism, loyalty and dissent.  "From the very beginning, I thought it was wrong that they would draft us without giving us our rights," he said. "I mean, why were we in this concentration camp when we didn't do anything wrong?"

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Updated: July 14, 2006