We Hereby Refuse draft coverJapanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration

Forthcoming February 9, 2021 from The Wing Luke Asian Museum and Chin Music Press. Pre-order now from Bookshop.

In World War II, Americans of Japanese ancestry complied with little protest to their mass eviction from homes on the West Coast. A few, however, refused to submit to continued incarceration in American concentration camps without a fight.

WE HEREBY REFUSE is a new graphic novel which captures the wide range of protest and resistance through the eyes of prisoners at three such camps. It is commissioned by the Wing Luke Asian Museum of Seattle through a Confinement Sites Grant from the National Park Service, and set for publication in February 2021 by The Wing and Chin Music Press. As the title suggests, the book presents an original vision of Japanese American history with clear parallels to the America of today:

    • At Minidoka, Seattle-born Hajime Jim Akutsu rejects the change of his draft classification to that of “enemy alien” and refuses to be drafted from camp until his American citizenship is restored;
    • At Tule Lake, Hiroshi Kashiwagi refuses to answer an ambiguously-worded questionnaire demanding an oath of loyalty and then, under the duress of uncertainties and tensions inside a U.S. Segregation Center, renounces his American citizenship; and
    • At Topaz, Mitsuye Endo refuses the Justice Department’s offer of early release from camp so that she can bring her habeas corpus lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where her victory leads to the release of all incarcerees.

The Writers

FRANK ABE is writer/director of the film on the largest organized resistance to incarceration, Conscience and the Constitution (PBS), and co-editor of JOHN OKADA: The Life and Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press), winner of an American Book Award. He has studied the camp resistance ever since playing a JACL leader in the 1976 NBC-TV movie, Farewell to Manzanar. He blogs at resisters.com.

TAMIKO NIMURA is a Sansei/Pinay freelance writer, editor, and public historian, contributing regularly to Discover Nikkei and the International Examiner. She is working on a children’s book and a family memoir responding to her father’s unpublished memoir of his wartime imprisonment at Tule Lake. She is also the niece of Hiroshi Kashiwagi, and can be found at kikugirl.net.

The Artists

ROSS ISHIKAWA is a cartoonist and animator living in Seattle. In addition to his work on We Hereby Refuse, 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 many of your favorite online retailers. Support local bookstores by shopping online with Bookshop. Also available in the UK from Browns Books for Students.

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration

%d bloggers like this: