Kiyoshi (aka Robert) Okamoto (b. 1889, d. 1974) – "Fair Play Committee of One"
Paul Takeo Nakadate (b. 1914, d. 1964)
Tsutomu (aka Ben) Wakaye (b. 1913, d. 1952)
Frank Seishi Emi (b. 1916, d. 2010) – activist, last surviving FPC leader
Minoru Tamesa (b. 1908, d. circa mid-1970s)
Isamu (aka Sam) Horino (b. circa 1915, d. 2002)
Guntaro Kubota (b. 1903, d. 1967) – only Issei
During the WWII era, seven Heart Mountain Issei and Nisei incarcerees banded together to form a draft resistance movement as leaders of the Fair Play Committee (FPC), inspired by the viewpoints of Kiyoshi Okamoto. While discussions began in late 1943, the FPC formalized on January 26, 1944 and held their first public meeting February 8, 1944.
By May of that same year, 63 young men, known as the "Resisters", had been arrested and were awaiting trial for Selective Service violations and the FPC leaders were facing felony charges for their role in aiding or abetting persons to evade registration. Denver-based journalist and Rocky Nippon/Shimpo editor James Omura was also charged with the FPC leaders, though he was later acquitted.
Ultimately, members of the FPC/Resisters groups were convicted and given sentences to serve two, four-year terms in federal penitentiaries at either McNeil Island in Washington state or Leavenworth in Kansas. Two of the Nisei FPC leaders were dually convicted for charges related to both their leadership roles and also failure to report to pre-induction physicals. These sentences were overturned in 1946. In 1947, most were deemed eligible to receive Presidential Pardon (Truman), having their rights fully restored.
During the WWII era the FPC leaders, the Resisters, their families and close associates were shunned for taking the unpopular stance and one that was contrary to the pro-government position of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL).
In the post-war years, many of the FPC leaders and Resisters continued to face tumultuous decades of ostracism and stigma from the Japanese American community and met staunch disapproval from many veterans and their supporting organizations. Yet many worked resolutely to educate the community-at-large and eventually gained understanding of their position from the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and members of various veterans associations.
FPC leaders Frank Emi and Minoru Tamesa, along with Resisters Takashi Hoshizaki, Yosh Kuromiya, Mits Koshiyama, George Nozawa, and others worked diligently through their lifetimes to defend their war-era political viewpoints and collaborated with many academic institutions and community groups to educate both the successive Japanese American generations and the community at-large about the importance of standing up for and defending ones' civil rights. The actions of these activists pre-dates the broader civil rights movement in the United States and was widely regarded as a shameful stain on the Japanese American community.
Slowly, the resistance movement and those having had subscribed to its tenants gained respect and acknowledgment as civil activists. The spirit of preserving, memorializing, educating, and supporting inquiry, research, and outreach is, and remains at, the core of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation's mission.
This document was prepared by the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation for the 2001 "Protest and Resistance: An American Tradition" Conference held in Cheyanne, Wyoming.
View the Time Line (Frank Emi Papers, HMWF Collections, Accession 2012.072, Box 11, Folder 11)
[Page last revised: 05/10/2016, N. Blechynden]