Jim Akutsu was born in Seattle on Jan 25, 1920 and studied civil engineering at the University of Washington. He was an excellent swimmer, wrestler, fencer and baseball player. He tried to volunteer for the National Guard and the Reserve Officer Training Corps before the war and immediately after Pearl Harbor but was turned away three times.
At the camp at Minidoka, Idaho, Akutsu was in contact with Frank Emi and James Omura about the Constitutional stand being taken by the Fair Play Committee. Akutsu decided to take a different approach; he claimed that since the government stripped him of his rights as a U.S citizen, then he must indeed be an enemy alien and therefore not eligible for the draft. He served two years at the federal penitentiary at McNeil Island, Washington, alongside the Heart Mountain resisters.
Akutsu returned to Seattle after the war and worked for the city of Seattle as an engineer. In 1957 his friend John Okada published a novel using Akutsu as the model for "Ichiro Yamada." Although the novel was titled NO-NO BOY it is not about that group of young men who answered "no" to Questions 27 and 28 on the so-called Loyalty Oath and were sent to the Segregation Center at Tule Lake; rather, it is based on the experiences of Jim Akutsu as a draft resister from
Minidoka who returns to Seattle after having "been gone four years, two in
camp and two in prison." Akutsu passed away in Seattle in 1998.