Category Archives: Fair Play Committee

Book: “American Nikkei Nisei Draft Resistance,” by Prof. Yukio Morita

book coverI paid a visit in August to Mits Koshiyama in San Jose and he was just in receipt of a new book published in Japan about the Nisei draft resisters, America Nikkei Nisei no Chohei Kihi (American Nikkei Nisei Draft Resistance). The author is Professor Yukio Morita.

Mit’s wife translated the cover blurb for me as reading something like: “They were called into the army, but they refused to go!” and on the obi strip: “Voices of the Nikkei who lost their property taken by the government!”

Prof. Morita includes the Guntaro Kubota translation into Japanese of a Fair Play Committee bulletin that is briefly glimpsed in Conscience, along with photos of Mits’ family, Frank Emi, George Nozawa, and a Hawaiian draft resister who wanted to renounce his citizenship.

Kenji Taguma, English Edition Editor of the Nichi Bei Times, wrote a story, “New Book Brings Little-Known Story of Nisei Resistance to Japanese Readers,” and is moderating a book talk with Prof. Morita  (who will be speaking in Japanese) and Nisei draft resisters Ken Yoshida and Mits Koshiyama. Kenji’s personal note tells the story:

This 600+ page book, published by Sairyusha Publishing Co. in Tokyo, is the first original Japanese language book solely dedicated to Nisei draft resistance. The back cover has an image of Frank Emi, and there are historical and contemporary photos interspersed throughout.

Professor Morita started interviewing Nisei resisters about five years ago, and the book includes results of interviews with folks like Frank Emi, Mits Koshiyama, George Nozawa, Jim Akutsu, Poston resisters, and the “Tucsconians” — resisters who were sentenced to the same federal labor camp as Gordon Hirabayashi. This latter group included my father Noboru, Joe Norikane and Susumu Yenokida of Granada (Amache), and Ken Yoshida (Topaz or Central Utah). There’s also a chapter on James Omura. I believe that this is the first book to include Granada and other resisters since Ellen Levine’s A Fence Away From Freedom.

As the son of a Nisei resister, I’m forever grateful to those of you who have helped to bring out this story. Frank Abe’s Conscience and the Constitution, Chizu Omori’s Rabbit in the Moon, and Eric Muller’s Free to Die For Their Country brought the story out to a wide audience. Hopefully, Prof. Morita’s book will bring the story to a new audience, in Japan and to Japanese-speakers here in America.

As you can imagine, his actual paying audience must be rather limited, and the small press probably has no marketing capabilities here. So, if you have any access to any library with a Japanese-language collection, I’m sure it would be appreciated if they are encouraged to purchase a copy. The book costs 7,200 yen, which is about $61 today. I actually have about 15 copies here that the publisher sent on Prof. Morita’s behalf, which Prof. Morita plans to sell at the event. If anyone can make the book event on Nov. 3, I can look into trying to set up some type of meal gathering.

More on “Watada, Resister”

Here’s the link to Lisa Chung’s July 7 column in the San Jose Mercury-News, “War resister’s predecessors stand with him” in which she quotes from Curtis Choy’s film of the phone call from Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya to Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq:

Besides the usual list of anti-war celebrities and politicians in Watada’s corner, what impresses me most are the members of the Heart Mountain draft resisters. They know all about taking an unpopular stand on principle. These are people like Mits Koshiyama in San Jose, Frank Emi and Yoshi Kuromiya in Los Angeles, and others. They know the personal cost can still resonate and sting, even after 60 years …

Writer Frank Chin sent me a DVD recording of a phone meeting between Watada and Emi, Kuromiya and Paul Tsuneishi, a World War II veteran. Koshiyama, 83, was going to take part until health issues intervened. The elders offered their analyses and support. Kuromiya told the young officer that he might very well go to prison, but it could be the beginning of something new. He has the character for leadership and a role to play.

See Curtis Choy’s “Watada, Resister.”

Ehren Watada and the Heart Mountain resisters

Lt. Ehren Watada, U.S. Military photoIn 1944 U.S. District Court Judge T. Blake Kennedy in Wyoming ruled 63 young Heart Mountain boys could not raise the unconstitutionality of mass incarceration as a defense in their trial for draft resistance. The jury could only rule on whether or not they failed to report for induction, and convicted the lot.

In 2007, although the cases are different, a military judge at Fort Lewis south of Seattle ruled this week that Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada can not raise the legality of the war in Iraq as a defense for his refusal to deploy there. The Seattle Times article has links to court documents in Watada’s court-martial trial. See also the Seattle P-I.

By the way, did you see the howler on the season premiere of “24” on Jan. 14? Under siege from terrorist attacks, in a terse exchange on the legal precedents for locking up American Muslims in concentration camps, “President Wayne Palmer” bemoaned how “Roosevelt imprisoned over 200,000 Japanese Americans in what most historians consider to be a shameful mistake.” Where were the fact-checkers? S.I. Hayakawa would have cried “semantic inflation.” What was troubling, though, was the next line of dialogue: “Well I would ask those historians how many of those Japanese Americans were thus prevented from perpetrating acts of sabotage in this country?” The answer, of course, is exactly none.