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Fujii, Shigeru

Biography:


Shigeru (Shig) Fujii was born on June 3, 1918, in Mountain View, California. Shig was the youngest of three children born to his Issei parents, Masataro and Kotomi, who immigrated to the United States from Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from Mountain View High School in 1938, Fujii helped his family at their flower nursery in Mountain View full-time. The Fujii family was quite close-knit, in large part due to their family business, of which Mas was the head by 1942. After they were evacuated to Santa Anita Assembly Center, Fujii, his parents, his older brother, Mas, Mas’ wife, Betty, and Mas’ young son, Makazu were sent to Heart Mountain, arriving on September 10, 1942. Fujii’s older sister, Marion (Saki) was sent to Gila River, Arizona, with her husband’s family.

Fujii had played tennis and basketball at home in Mountain View, and he continued to referee basketball games at Heart Mountain when he wasn’t away from camp, working in Montana as a laborer for the Northern Pacific Railroad Company or for the Great Western Sugar Company, picking sugar beets. Though Fujii was not considered “exactly a leader” in social situations, he was the one “who always helped make things go,” according to his friends. He often volunteered to be on committees for socials and “he really worked at it.” Though Fujii was very close to his family, his older brother Mas “let Shigeru think and decide for himself” on matters not related to the family business.

Fujii answered No to Question 27 and Yes to Question 28 of the 1943 loyalty questionnaire. According to his mother, his decision to respond negatively to question 27 was not influenced by his friends because he “was 26 and had long been old enough to make up his own mind.” Fujii was arrested on March 27, 1944 and tried with 62 other draft resisters in June. Fujii was sentenced to three years in the federal prison at McNeil Island, Washington. On June 29, 1944, he appealed the verdict and was the named appellant in the case for all 63 draft resisters. That appeal was denied by a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 12, 1945. Later in 1945, Rev. Ernest Chapman from Ogden, Utah, was contacted by representatives from the Young Womens’ Christian Association and agreed to sponsor Fujii and four other men from Heart Mountain should they have been granted parole. After parole, Fujii eventually rejoined his family in California. Shigeru Fujii died on April 13, 1999, in Mountain View, California.

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