THE LOYALTY CRISIS AT MANZANAR REGISTRATION, SEGREGATION, AND PARTICIPATION IN THE ARMED FORCES (continued)
MANZANAR HISTORIC CONTEXT (continued)
Participation in the Armed Forces
Military Intelligence Service. During 1942, prior to implementation of the registration and segregation programs at Manzanar, representatives of the Military Intelligence Service visited the camp to recruit evacuee males. According to the Final Report, Manzanar, "Nisei boys were used in a program clothed with military security long before the Army was re opened to persons of Japanese ancestry." The report continued:
The report continued:
The report went on to state that great "determination and courage were shown by one particular alien who had been an ordinary grocery clerk before evacuation." After passing tests "for employment in broadcasting activities with the Australian Government, an Australian flight lieutenant "stopped at the Center to pick him up, and actually trembling, he left on an air trip for Australia." At the time he left the center, according to the report, persons who took such positions were not infrequently referred to as 'dogs' by the Japanese in Manzanar, who also whispered that retaliation would be taken against the families of such people." 
One of the most prominent evacuees at Manzanar to join the Military Intelligence Service was Karl G. Yoneda. A Kibei born in Southern California, Yoneda went to Japan with his family at the age of 11. Attracted by books as a young man, he developed an interest in Marxism and left home at the age of 16, bound for China in search of a Russian writer whose works he admired. In order to avoid being drafted into the Japanese army, he returned to the United States and quickly became involved in the labor movement in California. He joined the Communist Party, and spent the 1930s as the editor of the Communist newspaper Rodo Shimbun and as an organizer of Japanese labor in California and Alaska. He married fellow Communist and labor activist Elaine Black, a Caucasian, in 1933 a union that would last for more than 55 years.
With the coming of World War II, Yoneda, along with all members of Japanese ancestry, was expelled from the Communist Party. Yoneda volunteered to evacuate to Manzanar, and was among the large contingent of evacuees that left Los Angeles by train on March 23. He was later joined by his wife and young son, although government authorities attempted to prevent her from joining her husband and son who were required to evacuate. The Yonedas lived in Block 4, Building 2, Apartment 2 at Manzanar. Yoneda emerged as one of the leaders of the evacuee faction at the camp that advocated cooperation with WCCA and WRA administrators.
On April 4, less than two weeks after arriving at Manzanar as a volunteer, Yoneda was called to the camp administration office to be questioned by two sergeants from U. S. Army Intelligence concerning his thoughts about the center and the number of Communists residing there. Yoneda reportedly told them that Japanese American Communist Party members and supporters were participating actively in the war against the Axis Powers and were willing to enlist if the Army would take them. In the meantime, they would take the message of democracy to the evacuees to help build a livable place and would attempt to aid the war effort in every way possible. He told them the majority of the evacuees were loyal to America, but he refused to provide names of Communists in the camp. Despite his "patriotic" statements, the FBI assigned an evacuee informer, identified as "B," to monitor and report on Yoneda's activities at Manzanar.
Yoneda emerged as one of the leaders of the evacuee faction at Manzanar that advocated working with WCCA and WRA administrators. On July 20, he attended the meeting in Togo Tanaka's quarters during which the Manzanar Citizens Federation was established to press for improved living conditions in the center and help promote the war effort. The organizing group included Koji Ariyoshi, Kiyoshi Higashi, Joe Grant Masaoka, Kiro Neeno, James Oda, Togo Tanaka, Fred Tayama, Tad Uyeno, and Tom Yamazaki, nearly half of whom were members of the Japanese American Citizens League.
During late July. Yoneda and Ariyoshi circulated a petition addressed to President Roosevelt, asking that he "utilize the manpower of Americans of Japanese ancestry, now in evacuation camps, for front line duty in the United States Armed Forces." They obtained 218 evacuee signatures, 50 of whom were women. The petition was forwarded with an "open" letter to Roosevelt on August 5, but no response was ever received.
On August 6, Colonel Kai E. Rasmussen, Commandant of the Military Intelligence Service Language School, accompanied by Sergeant Joe Masuda, interviewed some 90 candidates for the Military Intelligence Service in Block 1 at Manzanar. Yoneda played an active role in the Kibei meeting on August 8, opposing the efforts of the embittered Joseph Kurihara to dominate the proceedings. In late August Yoneda, Ariyoshi, and Masaoka composed a letter to Roosevelt asking that he allow evacuees to do farm work outside the relocation centers in support of the war effort. They collected 793 signatures from Issei and Nisei who were willing to serve in the Food for Freedom Campaign. Although never receiving a direct answer from Roosevelt, the WRA soon implemented a program for evacuees to harvest sugar beets in several western states. During October and November Yoneda left Manzanar with 21 other men, including "four Terminal Island 'tough boys' who had become disenchanted with Black Dragon doings," for a one-month labor contract with a sugar company in Idaho.
On November 23, 1942, a MIS recruiting team headed by Major Karl Gould, accompanied by Sergeant Masuda, arrived at Manzanar for actual recruiting purposes.. More than 50 Nisei and Kibei were interviewed and given physicals and oral and written examinations. Fourteen men were selected, including six Kibei. The men, who were sworn into the U.S. Army on November 28 as 'buck privates" by Major Karl Gould, included Ichiro L. Obikane, Shori Hiraide, James S. Oda, Sho Onodera, Yoshiki Hirabayashi, Harry Yamashita, Nobuo Yamashita, James J. Kaminishi, William Y. Murata, Keichi K. Amino, Frank K. Ishida, Henry T. Uyehara, and Koji Ariyoshi. On December 2, four days before violence would break out in the camp, the fourteen men left Manzanar for Camp Savage, Minnesota, via Los Angeles, accompanied by two Army sergeants. On December 7 the men arrived at Camp Savage.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the violence at Manzanar, Yoneda's wife and son, who were on the "death lists," were taken to the camp's Administration Building by a member of the military police patrolling the camp and given protection by WRA authorities. James Ito, the youth that was killed during the violence on December 6, had been a member of Yoneda's Idaho sugar beet crew and had signed the petition to Roosevelt drawn up by Yoneda and Ariyoshi asking that persons of Japanese ancestry be accepted for military service. On December 10, Elaine Yoneda and her son were transferred, along with 63 other evacuees, to the abandoned Cow Creek Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Death Valley. On December 19, Elaine Yoneda and her son left for Los Angeles at her own expense after WRA authorities intervened to obtain travel permits for her son.
After graduating from the MIS Language School, Yoneda served in the China-Burma-India Office of the War Information Psychological Warfare Team. He was first stationed in Ledo, India, where he wrote propaganda leaflets, prepared radio broadcasts, and interrogated Japanese prisoners of war. During the next two years, he conducted broadcasts to enemy lines in Myitkyina, Burma, before being sent to Kunming, China, where he prepared propaganda leaflets for air-drops to enemy troops until V-J Day. 
Koji Ariyoshi, an associate of Yoneda who was selected for the Military Intelligence Service from Manzanar, would later gain some notoriety. After training at the MIS Language School, he was also assigned to intelligence work in the China-Burma-India Office of the War Information Psychological Warfare Team. A native of Hawaii, Ariyoshi returned to Honolulu after the war and established the Honolulu Record, a progressive newspaper that he edited from 1948-58. Having become an admirer of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communists while stationed in Yenan, China, during the war, Ariyoshi promoted U.S-China relationships during the Cold War era. In 1951-52 he and six others were arrested and convicted for "conspiring to teach and advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence," but his conviction was overturned in 1958. 
Service in the U.S. Army. As a result of the registration program in February-March 1943, approximately 100 Nisei at Manzanar volunteered for the Regimental Combat Team. After the Selective Service was reopened to Japanese Americans in January 1944, some Nisei in other relocation centers refused to report for Army duty when drafted. At Manzanar, however, every drafted man responded for a physical examination.
Prior to September 1944, the Personnel Section at Manzanar handled Selective Service activities. In September, an assistant relocation adviser was appointed as a representative of the local draft board. From that time on, this adviser handled the registration of Manzanar men reaching their 18th birthday as well as other matters pertaining to Selective Service procedures. By the end of the war, 116 Manzanar men had been inducted into the Army, while 66 more were classified as 1-A, and 87 were rejected as unfit for service. Four evacuees from Manzanar were killed in action, and 14 were wounded. 
An article in the Manzanar Free Press on April 7, 1943, stated that "Nearly 300 stars will grace Manzanar's Service flag now being made to honor those who are full-fledged nephews of Uncle Sam." Each star would "represent one service man from this center including all soldiers with families in Manzanar, the volunteers now in training at Camp Savage Military Intelligence School and for the combat unit, as well as those who joined the ranks from the appointed personnel staff." The article noted that the volunteers for the RCT from Manzanar had completed their medical examinations and would soon leave for induction at Fort Douglas, Utah. 
On July 29, 1944, the Manzanar Free Press reported that Mr. and Mrs. Takeyoshi Arikawa, residents of Block 31, Building 3, Apartment 4, had been notified three days earlier of the death their son, Private First Class Frank Nobuo Arikawa, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He had been killed in action near Castellina, Italy, on July 6. Frank, who was awarded the purple heart and the combat infantry badge, was the brother of Burns T. Arikawa who had also volunteered for the RCT from Manzanar and was on active duty in Italy. Another brother, James, was on duty at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Both "Frank and James" had been "in the services prior to evacuation."  In an editorial that day, the center newspaper observed that:
A memorial service was held for Frank Arikawa in the recently-completed Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, August 6. Edwin E. Ferguson, Acting Solicitor, sent a memorandum to Director Myer on August 23 that contained excerpts of a description of the service prepared by Kent Silverthorne, Acting Project Attorney at Manzanar. Silverthorne observed that the memorial service had been "the most impressive and moving" service he had ever "experienced." He commented further:
Meanwhile, the first group of 25 inductees at Manzanar was sworn into the Enlisted Reserve Corps of the U.S. Army in an induction ceremony in Mess Hall 16 on July 31, 1944. The men were inducted by Captain J. M. Lyle, Jr., assistant induction officer from the Ninth Service Command headquarters in San Francisco. Other members of the induction team included: Captain R. A. Smithson, medical examiner; Staff Sergeant Robert N. Bare, administrative assistant; Corporal Francis Halstead, medical assistant; and Private Charles Foo, psychologist's assistant. In addressing the group of inductees, Lyle stated that the men would be subject to call sometime within 30 to 60 days. He also noted: "What assignment you receive or where you will be sent, no one knows. But remember that there is a definite job for you to do."
During the ceremony, Kiyoharu Anzai, chairman of the Block Managers, told the men that the
Project Director Merritt also spoke at the ceremony, commenting that the group of 25 inductees was "the first evidence that this country is recognizing the statement that 'all men are created free and equal.'" 
Twenty-five more men were inducted into the Enlisted Reserve Corps during a second induction ceremony held at Mess Hall 16 on August 2. 
On May 22, 1944, the Manzanar USO Committee held an "enthusiastic" meeting in the office of its treasurer, Edwin H. Hooper, a WRA employee. During the meeting, Henry Tsurutani, chairman of the committee, exhibited the certificate of recognition of the Manzanar USO that had been received from the National USO. It was announced that USO headquarters would be established in the YMCA clubhouse in Block 19, Building 15. Magazines, newspapers, and USO stationery would be available in the club rooms.
In addition to the chairman and treasurer, the members of the Manzanar USO Committee included: Mrs. May Ichida, vice-chairman; Joan Fukuda, secretary; Mrs. Lucy Adams, Mrs. Ralph Merritt, Mrs. Margaret D'Ille, Aksei Nielsen, Arthur Miller, Rev. H. G. Bovenkerk, Father Leo Steinbach, Mrs. Henry Tsurutani, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Shikami, and Mrs. Asa Ikeda. 
On September 4, parents and family members of service men in the U.S. armed forces were honored during a "Get Acquainted Party" sponsored by the Manzanar chapter of the USO in Mess Hall 16. The meeting drew a capacity crowd of some 350-450 persons. The featured speaker was Sergeant Shori Hiraide, who had returned from the South Pacific and was visiting his parents in Block 23, Building 5, Apartment 2. He related his experiences while serving with the MIS in the South Pacific. Sergeant Fujino spoke on the meaning of Army enlistments by Nisei and the soldiers' hopes and aspirations. He noted that the 'Niseis who give their lives and blood willingly for the Stars and Stripes have foremost in their minds the welfare of the Niseis in America and their future, and the hope of seeing them achieve a glorious place in American life." An explanation of the G.I. Bill of Rights and the Soldiers' Dependency Benefits was given by Koichi Ozone in Japanese. Two films, one entitled, "Go For Broke," that featured Nisei service men of the RCT in training, and the other on the invasion of Europe were shown. 
Evacuee Reaction. The announcement in January 1944 that Nisei would henceforth be subject to Selective Service procedures resulted in considerable debate among the evacuees at Manzanar.  One Nisei from Terminal Island, for instance, described his ambivalence to the announcement on February 18:
As a result of the intense feelings that the announcement created in the camp, WRA camp administrators authorized meetings in each block on February 25-26, the purpose of which were to frame resolutions to be submitted to a general meeting with Project Director Merritt on February 27 and to select three representatives from each block who would speak for them at that time. Merritt had indicated that he would take the camp's resolutions to Washington, providing they were not "written in a demanding way." 
Opler attended one block meeting  that "was conducted in a relatively calm and orderly manner and there was little indication of extreme and irreconcilable bitterness except in one or two instances." According to Opler
In other blocks however, divisions and strong feelings were more in evidence, many Nisei indicating they did not mind being drafted but first they wanted a restoration of their civil rights. 
One of Opler's reports, issued on April 25, 1944, provided an evacuee's description of the meeting with Merritt on February 27 and a follow-up meeting on February 29 when the final resolutions were adopted by 102 Nisei block representatives. The evacuee observed:
In a foreword to the report, Opler noted that since the final resolutions had been adopted on February 29, calmer "heads have prevailed and even many of those who first spoke most strongly have moderated their tone." However, the "amount and intensity of feeling that was displayed at the Tuesday evening meeting suggests that the crisis cannot be considered entirely past until the test, the induction of a considerable body of young men, has taken place without incident." 
The "Manzanar Resolutions," as finally adopted on February 29, consisted of a memorandum to Merritt and resolutions to be submitted to the War Department as well as to the WRA. The resolutions to be submitted to the War Department included:
The resolutions to be submitted to the WRA included:
On March 1, the day after the "Manzanar Resolutions" were adopted, Opler prepared a report analyzing the Nisei reaction to the draft. Before listing the principal elements which entered "into the total Nisei reaction," he discussed "what the reaction does not mean." In his opinion it did not
Accordingly, Opler listed eight factors which he considered to be the most significant in explaining the Nisei reaction to the draft at Manzanar. The eight factors were:
In conclusion, Opler observed that the "eight major factors which I have enumerated are not an exhaustive list but they do point to the most important considerations involved." The factors
Although such sentiments would continue throughout the history of Manzanar, there were no incidents of draft evasion among the Nisei at Manzanar.
Last Updated: 01-Jan-2002