Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration

Coming mid-March 2021 from Chin Music Press. Pre-order now from your local independent bookstore or online from Bookshop.org.

We Hereby Refuse draft cover

Three voices …
   Three acts of defiance …
       One mass injustice

This graphic novel presents an original vision of America’s past with disturbing links to the American present.

Japanese Americans complied when expelled from their homes in World War II– but when it came to their ongoing imprisonment in American concentration camps, many among them refused to submit without a fight. For the first time, three of their stories are tied together within an epic narrative of the entire camp experience:

  • We meet Jim Akutsu, the inspiration for John Okada’s No-No Boy, who refused to be drafted from camp after he was classified as a non-citizen, an enemy alien;
  • We uncover the U.S. policy of deporting Japanese Americans from Tule Lake, the segregation camp for those who refused a government loyalty questionnaire, and through Hiroshi Kashiwagi we witness the government campaign to denationalize the segregees and induce them to repatriate, expatriate, and even renounce their U.S. citizenship;
  • And for the first time, we hear the personal voice of Mitsuye Endo, the California state employee made a reluctant but willing plaintiff to a lawsuit which led to a decisive victory at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Through these characters, we see the devastating impacts of mass incarceration based solely on race, and expose the depth and breadth of the long-suppressed story of camp resistance.

We Hereby Refuse is accompanied by an online Educators Guide for secondary schools.  It was commissioned by the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience through a grant from the National Park Service.

The Writers

FRANK ABE wrote and directed the PBS film on the largest organized resistance to incarceration, Conscience and the Constitution. He won an American Book Award for JOHN OKADA: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy, and is co-editing a new anthology of incarceration literature for Penguin Classics. He blogs at Resisters.com.

TAMIKO NIMURA is a Sansei/Pinay writer. Her work moves through the intersections of the personal, political, and historical. She contributes regularly to HistoryLink.org and Discover Nikkei, and can be found at tamikonimura.net.

The Artists

ROSS ISHIKAWA is a cartoonist and animator living in Seattle. He is working on a graphic novel about his parents and their coming of age during World War II. His work is online at rossishikawa.com.

MATT SASAKI is the artist on the previous volume in this series, Fighting for America: Nisei Soldiers. He lives with his wife and an old dog north of Seattle. Samples of his work are online at mattsasaki.com.


Pre-orders of the book are now being taken at  your local independent bookseller, and your favorite online retailers. Support local bookstores by shopping online with Bookshop. Available in the United Kingdom from Browns Books for Students.

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration

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