Film Records Resistance of Japanese-Americans in World War II

The Florida Times Union, May 23, 2000 | Go to article overview

Film Records Resistance of Japanese-Americans in World War II


LOS ANGELES -- When Frank Abe was studying the history of World War II in high school, he never understood how 120,000 Japanese-Americans let themselves be herded into internment camps and held for years without putting up a fight.

Now he knows the answer: Some did resist.

They criticized the camps and then, when the government tried to induct them into the military, were prosecuted in the biggest draft resistance trial in U.S. history. Some spent years in prison, even as they were attacked as cowards and traitors by fellow Japanese-Americans.

He wants the world to know their untold story, which he says has been left out of most history books. He has made the first documentary film about the resisters, Conscience and the Constitution.

"The story is about what price do you pay for taking a principled stand," says Abe, a third-generation Japanese-American who lives in Seattle. "They spent an average of two years in federal prison and 50 years as pariahs in their own communities. They were written out of history until now."

The one-hour documentary, financed in part by the San Francisco-based Independent Television Service, will be screened today at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film and Video Festival. It will be released early next year to public television stations nationwide.

The resisters' odyssey began after the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbor, when the U.S. government, fearing subversion, ordered Japanese-Americans on the West Coast into 10 internment camps. …

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