Category Archives: Fair Play Committee

In memoriam: George Nozawa

George Nozawa (right)Sad news from Mountain View, California tonight. George Nozawa was a quiet, thoughtful man who provided a number of the newspaper clippings and primary documents that are seen in our film, including his own draft card! The photo from his collection shows George on the right with his good friend, FPC leader Frank Emi:

From Kenji Taguma of the Nichi Bei Times.

I am saddened to report that George Nozawa, said to be the unofficial historian of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, passed away on Monday, April 21.

Details are still somewhat sketchy, but he’s been in failing health recently. I’ve learned of his death through the Koshiyamas in San Jose, who were informed by George’s daughter (I believe that he also has one son).

George has played a central role in the camaraderie between the Amache (Granada) / Tucsonian resisters and Heart Mountain resisters over the years, during a time when the story of the principled stand of the resisters was rapidly coming to light in the 1990s. I remember inviting him to the two Tucsonian (resisters) reunions in Sacramento that I organized, and his compilation of articles of Amache resisters — and their arrests and trials — are still a fond piece of my collection. I am indebted to him for helping to reclaim a piece of history.

Over the years, he has meticulously clipped resister-related articles and has generously shared them with others, myself included.

Last year, my brother Mark and I visited George and his wife, taking along Professor Yukio Morita of Kanazawa University — whose comprehensive book on Nisei resisters [pdf, 3MB] helped to document for eternity the stories of George, my father and other resisters.

Since George lived about a couple of blocks from my brother in Mountain View, my dad would often visit George when at my brother’s, and share some cherished memories.

I will remember George as someone who was straight and narrow. I will truly miss George, another personal hero who may be gone, yet will not be forgotten.

We’re unsure about any services, but it might be good to check in the San Jose Mercury News in the next couple of days. I hear that George was a member of the Mountain View Buddhist Temple.

— Kenji

Kenji also sent an article in the San Bernardino County Sun about the latest performance of “A Community Divided” on April 23 by Frank Emi, Yosh Kuromiya, Paul Tsuneishi and Momo Yashima, with a great 9-picture photo gallery of the event.

“World, War, Watada” and the Heart Mountain resisters

Amerasia Journal has published a special “wartime edition” that refocuses attention on the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, through the lens of the ongoing case involving Lt. Ehren Watada. The issue is titled “World, War, Watada,” and features letters from Heart Mountain resister Mits Koshiyama and supporter Paul Tsuneishi, both of whom are featured in our film. According to the UCLA news release:

Koshiyama, a Heart Mountain World War II draft resister, ends his personal letter to Lt. Ehren Watada, as follows: “Do what your conscience tells you what to do. We got punished by a prejudiced court but in the end, we prevailed.”

Writer Frank Chin contributes “A Call to Resist,” his take on Watada and the World II resisters, which also appears on his blog. Chin asks:

Lt. Ehren Watada, a Hawaiian Japanese Chinese American, exercises the rights the resisters defended, and brings the questions the Nisei heard tossed about in the camp war years, back to the present day. Will Japanese Americans react any differently than they did on their 9/11, Dec. 7, 1941?

There’s also an interview with filmmaker Curtis Choy and the making of “Watada, Resister.” Thanks to editor Russell C. Leong for referencing our film in his introductory editorial, “Is Resistance Your Real Name?,” and bringing some of you to this site.

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.