Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration

Finalist in Creative Nonfiction for the Washington State Book Award

Script by Frank Abe
Story by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura

Artwork by Ross Ishikawa

Artwork by Matt Sasaki

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WHR final cover art

Three voices …
   Three acts of defiance …
       One mass injustice

WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration is the story of camp as you’ve never seen it before, a new graphic novel which presents an original vision of America’s past with disturbing links to the American present.

Japanese Americans complied when evicted from their homes in World War II – but many refused to submit to imprisonment in American concentration camps without a fight. For the first time, three of their stories are woven together into one epic narrative. In We Hereby Refuse, we meet:

  • Jim Akutsu, the inspiration for John Okada’s No-No Boy, who refused to be drafted from the camp at Minidoka after he was classified as a non-citizen, an enemy alien;
  • Hiroshi Kashiwagi, who resists government pressure to sign a loyalty oath at Tule Lake, but yields to family pressure to renounce his U.S. citizenship;
  • And for the first time, we hear the personal voice of Mitsuye Endo, a reluctant recruit to a lawsuit contesting her imprisonment, who refuses a chance to leave the camp at Topaz so that her case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Through these characters, we see the devastating impacts of mass incarceration based solely on race, and reveal 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 Japanese American Confinement Sites 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 living in Tacoma. 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 dog north of Seattle. Samples of his other work are online at mattsasaki.com.


Chin Music Press books are distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, a division of Ingram Publisher Services.

Publication Date: May 18, 2021

Trade paper with French flaps
Color Illustrations throughout
$19.95, 168 pages
ISBN: 978-1-63405-976-3

CONTACT: Bruce Rutledge, Publisher
Chin Music Press
Phone: 206-380-1947
Email: [email protected]

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration