Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Mits Koshiyama Interview
Narrator: Mits Koshiyama
Interviewer: Frank Abe
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: August 15 & 16, 1993
Densho ID: denshovh-kmits-03-0004

<Begin Segment 4>

FA: You were, again, only a kid then, Mits. What attracted you to the Fair Play Committee and the draft resistance?

MK: What attracted me to the Fair Play Committee and the draft resistance was that it was something I really believed in. I didn't do good in school but one thing that my teachers instilled into me was the Constitution of the United States and how it's supposed to protect all minorities and all of its citizens. I learned about the inalienable rights that every citizen should enjoy such as life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I know that it wasn't true in our lifetime because we were minorities and there was a lot of prejudice against us and our parents, but I still believed in the Constitution and I think that's, always believed that's the only thing that will protect us. Not good image.

FA: Even going back to the evacuation itself, Mits, the JACL, when they cooperated with the government, what did you think about that?

MK: Well, I think that was wrong. Even though I was a member of the JACL at that time, I felt strongly that our leaders should speak up. I always thought that any leaders would speak up against racial and prejudiced laws and actions by the government.

FA: Was there a time, Mits, when you realized that you were going to refuse to report for physical induction?

MK: Yes, I believe from the very beginning that I thought that Selective Service out of the camps was not right. I asked how can we, I as a Japanese American citizen, be put into camp, denied my constitutional rights, denied my day in court to prove that I'm innocent, and yet I'm supposed to go out and volunteer or be drafted into a segregated army unit to fight for the very democratic principles that are denied me. I said, why should I go fight for the democratic principles and the free world for the very people that are oppressing me, and I just couldn't understand that from the very, day one.

FA: JACL and the boys who did volunteer said it's an act of faith, that we're going to prove to the white people of America that we are loyal, they think we're Japanese, we'll prove we're American, this way.

MK: Uh-huh. Well, I tried to understand their viewpoint, but to me, I have nothing to prove. I am an American citizen, I never did anything wrong, and I don't have to prove myself. My very actions of living in America, obeying the laws and being a good citizen, is example that I am a good citizen, and I don't believe that I should have to go prove myself.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.