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Conscience and the Constitution
The Story

James Omura

"The Nisei are well within their rights to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The Constitution gives us certain inalienable and civil rights. The government should restore a large part of those rights before asking us to contribute our lives to the welfare of the nation."
--James Omura, "Let Us Not Be Rash", Rocky Shimpo newspaper, Feb. 28, 1944

James Omura was born on Bainbridge Island, Washington. As publisher of Current Life, a magazine of Nisei arts and politics in San Francisco, he spoke out against the mass expulsion and challenged the leadership of the JACL.

With his wife he fled to Denver, where they created the Pacific Coast Evacuee Placement Bureau to assist other Nisei in their resettlement. Unable to continue publication of Current Life, Omura took a job as English Editor of one of Denver's Japanese American vernacular newspapers, the Rocky Shimpo. Shortly after starting work, the U.S. reinstituted the draft for the Nisei in camp. Omura was the only journalist to write about the growing draft resistance and offered them veiled advice through his editorials. His support of the Fair Play Committee landed him in court alongside them, charged with conspiracy to counsel draft evasion. He was the only defendant acquitted, on grounds of the First Amendment and freedom of the press.

After the war Omura was hounded from job to job by other Nisei and left journalism, instead becoming a respected landscape contractor in Denver. He was finally recognized in 1989 with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asian American Journalists Association. He passed away in Denver in 1994.

Rocky Shimpo
  • See the editorials that got James Omura arrested.
  • Characters Menu overview
    Jim Akutsu
    Frank Emi
    Sam Horino
    Tak Hoshizaki
    Dave Kawamoto
    Mits Koshiyama
      Gloria Kubota
    Guntaro Kubota
    Ben Kuroki
    Yosh Kuromiya
    Mike Masaoka
    Paul Nakadate
      Kiyoshi Okamoto
    James Omura
    Min Tamesa
    Ben Wakaye


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