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-03-0005

<Begin Segment 5>

FA: Let's say I'm George Yoshinaga, even today I say that you were nothing more than a draft dodger. What do you say to me?

MK: I think he is wrong. He is steeped in patriotism without really knowing the facts. We were never draft dodgers. We faced the issues squarely on. We were never cowards. I think the cowards were the people that didn't face the issues. They still believe in the fairy tale that good public image is better than good constitutional laws, and that the people that say that, "I obeyed the laws no matter how prejudiced and wrong they were," I think those people are copping out because they didn't have the courage to fight for their constitutional rights during wartime. And now they're trying to say that, "My parents taught me to obey all laws," that's really a cop-out to me because that shows that they didn't have the courage to fight for their own rights.

FA: Are you saying that you feel the people who volunteered who are, did the dishonorable thing, Mits?

MK: No, I wouldn't say they didn't.... we were never against the people that went into the army. You could look through all our records, wartime records and you won't find anyplace, anyplace anywhere that the Heart Mountain resisters were against anybody that went into the army. They had their rights. If they wanted to go they should go. But for me, I wanted my constitutional rights returned to me and my family before I went. And we asked for redress even in 1944, that we be compensated for our losses and let us go back to California and resume our normal life, then we'd be happy to go. We never said that we won't go. And a lot of my friends went into the army, some went into the 442nd. I have three brothers that served in the armed forces of the United States. And nobody is gonna say our family is disloyal or something un-American and stuff like that. That's a bunch of crap. People just don't want to face the truth. And one way to get, hurt the resisters trying to say that we're against the 442nd or against anybody that served, that's not true. Lot of the resisters, the younger resisters served in the Korean War. Now if wearing the uniform was that important, then why should they condemn the resisters because most of them served.

FA: And in fact, when it comes to eligibility for the draft, what should we know about the resisters about whether or not they would have passed even the draft physical in the first place?

MK: Yeah, there were... I believe I can make a true statement and say that many of the resisters were 4-F. Some of 'em, why, if they took their glasses off they couldn't see two feet in front of them, and one of my friends was a tubercular victim even before the war, he was in a sanitarium, I believe. And then... but he strongly believed that the draft was wrong and that we should all get our rights as free American citizens before we served in the army. And that poor guy, I remember him working in the rain, he just wanted to be a regular fella, and he worked in the rain and everything out in the Tacoma area, and he became ill again and that really shortened his life. But he had moral, strong moral principles and I admire him. You can't call a person like that a coward and stuff like that.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1993, 2005 Frank Abe and Densho. All Rights Reserved.