UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING HOSTS
HEART MOUNTAIN DRAFT RESISTERS
Frank Emi and Yosh Kuromiya
at the University of Wyoming
Two members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee (FPC) spoke at the University of Wyomings Organization of Active Students Interested in Sociology conference held on April 25-26, 2003.
Of the 10 War Relocation Authority camps, Heart Mountain had the only organized draft resistance movement, led by the FPC. The FPC members refused to report to their draft board if called upon until their rights as U.S citizens were restored. Frank Emi, a leader of the FPC, and resister, Yosh Kuromiya, spoke before students and faculty members about their wartime expulsion from their homes and detention at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming.
They spoke about their respective trials, subsequent prison experience and their appeals to the higher courts. According to Emi, the FPC took on the draft issue because it was unfair, unjust, immoral and legally questionable.
He said that when asked to sign a document foreswearing any allegiance to Japan, he declined to sign it because as a second generation American, he never had such an allegiance. Emi told the audience that it was a very stupid question and he had written on the document under the present circumstances I cannot answer this question.
Kuromiya said that as a patriotic American, he was at first inclined to respond to the draft but came to realize that the real threat to our democracy was at my very doorstep. Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, Kuromiya said, The
unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of democracy.
Takashi Hoshizaki, another FPC resister, was unable to attend the event but sent a statement read by Sandy Root-Elledge, a graduate student in sociology who wrote a masters thesis about Heart Mountain.
The removal and the unconstitutional incarceration of Americans of Japanese ancestry in 1942 has been on my mind, reincarnated 60 years later in the form of the U.S. Patriot Act of 2002, Hoshizaki wrote in his statement. Both trample on the constitutional right of the people of the United States under the guise of wartime necessity. This time it is the alienation and prosecution of Americans of Arab/Muslim background.
Hoshizaki is a veteran of the Korean War as were several other FPC members. As free Americans, they responded when their draft orders came.
Donna Barnes, an associate professor of sociology at UW, told the Casper Star-Tribune that the three were remarkable men who performed what was truly an act of principle and conscience. It is remarkable, Barnes said, to find people in this kind of hostile environment who would step forth.
Emi and six other FPC leaders were convicted of conspiracy in federal court, but the ruling was overturned on December 1945 by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
The 65 resisters from Heart Mountain, including Kuromiya and Hoshizaki lost their case on appeal but they and all Nisei draft resisters from other camps were issued a presidential pardon in December 1947, which restored all their civil and political rights. In issuing the pardons, the head of the Amnesty Board noted the dilemma of the Nisei draft resisters and said they understood the reasons for their actions.