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Selective Service Registration
Selective Service Registration

Poston, AZ War Relocation Authority camp.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the number of Nisei accepted into the Armed Forces fell dramatically, with restrictions on those accepted becoming increasingly tighter. On September 14, 1942, the Selective Service adopted regulations prohibiting Nisei induction, and reclassified all registrants of Japanese ancestry as IV-C, enemy aliens. This classification held through the first year and a half of internment.

"In December 1943, the government announced that Selective Service would begin to induct Nisei. The idea of drafting the Nisei was not new. It had been discussed at least as early as October 1942, when Elmer Davis argued to the President that 'it would hardly be fair to evacuate people and then impose normal draft procedures.' At that time, Davis' view had prevailed. Now the War Department was changing its mind, which Secretary Stimson attributed to the fine record of Nisei volunteers. The need for manpower and the small number of volunteers from the camps were undoubtedly factors as well. Supporting the decision as a return to normal nondiscriminatory citizenship were the JACL and WRA, which had long been on record supporting the draft.
Not until January 14, 1944, however, did Selective Service local board regulations permit Nisei eligibility for the draft, subject to War Department acceptability, principally a review of loyalty. Acceptable registrants were reclassified I-A, the status of other eligible citizens. Many of the 2,800 Nisei inductees from the camps welcomed the draft. It reinstated their rights, offered a means to evade their parents' objection to voluntary enlistment and produced a job as well as escape from the debilitating idleness and confinement of camp. The draft successfully solicited replacements for the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
For others, however, the draft was yet another humiliation. The government that had already behaved so shabbily now was forcing its prisoners to fight the war. About 300 refused to report for physicals or induction on the grounds that their citizenship rights should be fully restored before they were compelled to serve in the armed forces. The most organized resistance came from Heart Mountain, although Poston had a greater number of refusals."
Personal Justice Denied
Fred Clark
Courtesy of National Archives

June 29, 1942