This Day in History

March 31, 1944: Frank S. Emi Interrogated

Time Periods: 1920
Themes: Asian American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
Frank Emi

Frank Emi (right), leader of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, stands with supporter Kozie Sakai in a photo taken at the height of the draft resistance movement, 1944, Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming. Courtesy of Frank Abe and Frank Emi.

On March 31, 1944 Frank S. Emi was interrogated about his protest of the draft. Emi was a leading figure of the Fair Play Committee, an ad hoc group that protested the drafting of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Read some of his testimony below when he was questioned by Leave Clearance Director Guy Robertson.

EMI: In other words Mr. Robertson, you imply that you have more power than is set forth in the Constitutional Bill of Rights?

ROBERTSON: No, Frank. I have power to do what I am doing.

EMI: Then I contend what you are doing is against the rights I have as a citizen of this country.

Convicted of conspiracy to violate the Selective Service Act, Emi served eighteen months in a federal penitentiary.  Emi later explained:

I could not believe that the government could actually put us in camp, strip us of everything . . . and then order us into the military as if nothing had happened.

He added,

We could either tuck our tails between our legs like dogs or stand up like free men and fight for justice. Some of us chose the latter. We were going to resist.

Learn More

Conscience and the Constitution, a documentary film about 63 Japanese Americans who refused to be drafted from a U.S. concentration camp.

Profile of Frank Emi at Densho Encyclopedia

Tribute to Fair Play Committee Member Frank Emi at Rethinking Schools

American Public Media podcast on the Fair Play Committee

We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration a graphic novel

Find resources below for teaching about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.