Soldiers of Conscience


Soldiers of Conscience

Japanese American Military Resisters in World War II

Shirley Castelnuovo
Foreword by Cedrick Shimo

200 pages
19 illustrations


June 2010


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, persons of Japanese ancestry were the victims of frequent racist acts and culturally biased governmental loyalty investigations and, finally, of exclusion and imprisonment. The majority of Japanese Americans complied with government actions during this period, including the drafting of Japanese Americans into military service. However, some two hundred Japanese Americans drafted into the army refused to serve in combat while their families languished in internment camps.
The history of Japanese Americans in World War II does not record the stories of these resisters. It does not mention the War Department Special Organization, to which many of them were transferred, or the individuals who were tried and sentenced by military courts to long prison terms. The two hundred conscientious military resisters felt betrayed by the government and viewed the decision to imprison Japanese Americans as an immoral acquiescence to West Coast racism.
Here, for the first time, the resisters’ story is related in vivid detail. Shirley Castelnuovo follows many of the resisters into the postwar years, assessing the ramifications of their actions on their lives as individuals and within the broader context of the Japanese American community.

Author Bio

Shirley Castelnuovo is professor emerita of political science at Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago. Cedrick Shimo is a second-generation Japanese American who enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the 1800th Engineering General Service Battalion during World War II. He became vice president of the export division of Honda until his retirement.


“Do U.S. military personnel have the right to resist orders if these violate domestic or international law? This passionate and scholarly account of Japanese American soldiers during World War II both stuns and compels. Castelnuovo assesses a hidden chapter in American history and asks: are we mistaken to ignore ‘Objectors of Conscience’ in the U.S. Armed Forces?”—Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Internment, Redress & Community, University of California at Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Foreword by Cedrick Shimo
A Note on Terminology and Names
Chapter 1: The Presumption of Disloyalty
Chapter 2: The Pre-Detention Inductees: Individual Conscientious Resistance
Chapter 3: The Fort McClellan Conscientious Resisters
Chapter 4: The Response to Fort McClellan
Chapter 5: Renunciation / Repatriation in the Military
Chapter 6: Company of the Damned
Chapter 7: Renunciation / Repatriation at Fort Meade
Chapter 8: Partial Vindication
Chapter 9: The Conscientious Resisters and the Japanese American Community
Chapter 10: Military Service and the Right of Conscience

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