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The Draft

After Pearl Harbor, citizens of Japanese ancestry were classified 4-C, enemy aliens. In December 1943, it was announced that all Nisei would be reclassified and eligible for the draft. A total of 2,800 inductees were drawn from the camps in 1944 and 1945. Many young men viewed the action as a reinstatement of their rights as citizens and welcomed the opportunity to serve.

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The draft of these Japanese American men did not bring about the closing of the camps, or the restoration of the rights and property of Japanese Americans. In protest, many Nisei refused to appear for their physicals. In all, 315 young men refused induction. Of this group, 263 were convicted of draft evasion.

Frank Y.: The Irony of the Draft (oral history transcript)

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Resistance to the draft was particularly strong at the Heart Mountain and Poston Camps. Sixty-three Nisei members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee resisted the draft on constitutional grounds. The resisters were tried, convicted and sentenced to three years in federal prison. All appeals failed. Eventually, in 1947, President Truman pardoned all Japanese Americans who resisted the draft.

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Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center