JAPANESE AMERICAN VETERANS ASSOCIATION
1666 K Street,NW, Suite 500, Washington,D.C. 20006, c/o Gerald Yamada, Esq.
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vol. II
July 7, 2007 No. 38
CONTACT: Terry Shima (301-987-6746; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Tsukiyama, 808-946-9898; email@example.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS OF THE LOYALTY OATH, QUESTIONS 27 AND 28. HAWAII MILITARY GOVERNOR DISPLAYED UNCOMMON COURAGE.
By Ted Tsukiyama, Esq. 442nd (Hawaii) Historian
Edited for length by Grant Ichikawa
Nisei in Hawaii and the Mainland had a different perception of the Loyalty Oath, questions 27 and 28, they were required to sign to volunteer for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in WW II. This paper discusses the differences.
Military documents recovered from the National Archives indicate that one of the basic conditions to the formation of the Japanese American Combat Team was that all volunteers would be required to sign a loyalty oath (DSS Form 304A). A confidential memorandum from General Hayes A. Kroner, Chief, Military Intelligence Service on the organization of the combat team provided in part: “Selective Service is directed to call 4,500 men with approximately 1,500 to come from Hawaii. All will be general service and speak English. Arrangements have been made with the Selective Service system to require the execution of a DSS Form 304A for each male of military age who desires to make application for voluntary induction.”
DSS Form 304A was actually a questionnaire innocuously titled “Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry” consisting of 28 questions related to genealogy, family relations and personal life, organizations, affiliations and activities, connections with Japan, and culminating with the key questions #27 and #28 which read:
“27. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?
28. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”
For all of us volunteers from Hawaii, the first 26 items were hastily filled out and then questions 27 and 28 were treated as “no brainers” and the “Yes” answers were checked off without hesitation. This was exactly what we volunteered for! We would have signed any paper they put in front of us, so eager were we to volunteer. Almost 10,000 volunteered in a few days swamping the Draft Boards. This was the chance we had been waiting for.
But on the mainland, the so-called loyalty oath was met with an entirely different response. The mainland reaction was traumatic and chaotic because all detainees in the ten relocation camps over 17 years in age including Issei and women were required to “register” by signing the loyalty questionnaire. First of all, they must have carefully read questions 27 and 28 because they found meanings and implications which were totally overlooked by the Hawaii volunteers. They could only view the document, submitted to them by a government that had taken everything away and deprived them of their liberty, with suspicion, distrust, cynicism and bitterness.
Issei and women who were ineligible for military service were required to answer question 27 regarding their willingness to go to combat with the U.S. armed forces. If the non-citizen Issei who was legally barred from U.S. citizenship answered question 28 affirmatively forswearing any allegiance to the Emperor, would they then be left stateless, without citizenship of either Japan or the United States? Families feared or would be threatened with separation or breakup if the Nisei responded affirmatively as against the negative response of their Issei parents, forcing many Nisei to unwillingly respond “no” – “no” to the questionnaire.
Many Nisei suspiciously viewed
question 27 as an involuntary draft into military service if they answered “yes”
and with question 28 they hesitated to “forswear allegiance to the Japanese
Emperor” to whom they never held any loyalty or allegiance to in the first place
and thought this was a trap question. Conditional or qualified answers (“Yes”
if you release my family from camp) were disregarded or treated as “No”
responses. And finally, there were many basically loyal Nisei who answered “no”
– “no” to both questions out of sheer anger, bitterness and protest against the
deprivation and violation of their civil rights.
That such starkly contrasting reactive responses could be triggered by the same loyalty oath in Hawaii and the mainland can only be explained by the simple fact that in the latter case the loyalty screening was involuntarily imposed behind barbed wire enclosures in a liberty-deprived environment whereas in Hawaii it was not. The origins can be traced to the contrasting “tale of two generals” where General Delos C. Emmons of the Pacific Command and General John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense Command were both vested with the same authority to use Executive Order 9066 to address the “Japanese problem” but General DeWitt invoked that authority to forcefully evacuate 110,000 Japanese from the three Western states and incarcerate them in ten concentration camps in America’s wastelands, while on the other hand, General Emmons repeatedly deflected or ignored President Roosevelt’s orders to incarcerate them.
This disparity is strikingly
clarified in Tom Coffman’s recently produced documentary “The First Battle,”
which reveals that General Emmons’s actions and policies were guided and advised
by local leaders like FBI Hawaii Chief Robert Shivers, G-2 COL Kendall Fielder,
Honolulu Police Captain John Burns, Charles Hemenway, Leslie Hicks and Hung Wai
Ching vouching for the loyalty of Hawaii’s Japanese and averting any plan of
their incaceration. The Japanese on the West Coast unfortunately had no such
community leaders to support them. So looking back at this strange twist of
fate, all of Hawaii’s Japanese can thankfully say: “Lucky we live in Hawaii!”
The full length article appeared in the 442nd Veterans Club’s Go For Broke Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 1, Oct-Dec 2006 issue. If you wish to receive the full article, please contact Grant Ichikawa, firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-938-5857; or 114 James Dr, SW, Vienna, VA 22180.