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Conscience and the Constitution

"Facts about the Nisei Resisters of Conscience Resolution"
(distributed by backers at the JACL National Convention, July 1, 2000)

Facts about the Nisei Resisters of Conscience Resolution

"Who are the Nisei Resisters of Conscience?

A group of over 300 nisei men who answered "yes - yes" on the loyalty oath, with the qualification that they would willingly serve in the military if their families were first released from camp and given their full constitutional rights. When this was not done, they protested by refusing the draft, for which 315 were tried and 282 sentenced to federal prison. In 1947, President Truman granted them a full pardon and acknowledged their principled stand for civil rights. Many resisters later served in the U.S. military during the Korean War.

For what does this resolution specifically call?

  1. "The National JACL recognizes the Japanese American Resisters of Conscience as a group of principled Americans."
  2. The National JACL "offers an apology for not acknowledging the resisters' stand of protesting the denial of constitutional rights and for the pain and bitterness this caused."
  3. The National JACL "will recognize them at an appropriate public ceremony during the 2000-2002 biennium."

Why is this resolution being proposed?

  1. Recognition of a principled stand taken in support of the Constitutional rights of Japanese Americans.
  2. Reconciliation between those in the Japanese American community who were forced to make unfair and different choices by the U.S. governmentıs denial of Constitutional rights.
  3. Leadership today by the National JACL to heal divisions and strengthen the community in order to more effectively meet future civil and human rights challenges.

With whom are the Nisei Resisters of Conscience sometimes confused?

  1. "No-No boys" who answered "no" to loyalty to the U.S. and "no" to military service. They included many varied groups, including internment protestors and pro-Japan elements. Some of these groups sometimes verbally and physically attacked those who supported military service.
  2. Pro-Japan elements who in camp expressed loyalties to Japan.
  3. Conscientious objectors who objected to military service on religious or similar grounds.

Does this resolution place the Resisters above our Veterans who served in the military?

No. Nothing can change the respect the JACL will always have for those who served, sacrificed, and contributed to our community. The resolution recognizes another group that made a principled stand for our civil rights. The resolution does not say that all people should have been resisters.

Are the Resisters asking for this resolution?

No. This resolution was initiated by JACL members who thought that recognition of this Constitutional stand, reconciliation in our community, and JACL leadership was important.

Why is an apology included?

An apology is important to reconcile various sides in our community and move forward. Though the JACL took a valid position for military service during the War, it did not also acknowledge the right of the resisters to disagree ­ to protest the violation of the Constitution. This contributed to the pain and bitterness felt by the resisters and their families due to ostracism and being labeled traitors.

Wasn't this issue settled before?

No. In previous similar resolutions, no clear apology was made nor any recognition implemented by a public ceremony or other means.

Resolution Sponsors (partial list):

Sequoia, Golden Gate, Honolulu, Florin, Seattle, Alaska Chapters
and Pacific Northwest District Council.
Endorsed by Washington State legislators Kip Tokuda and Sharon Tomiko Santos.


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Copyright 2000 Frank Abe and ITVS. All Rights Reserved. MKM