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The sad history of the 'no-noes' of Tule Lake, a WWII Japanese American internment camp




Of the 10 internment camps to which Japanese Americans were forcibly sent during World War II, perhaps the most familiar to Angelenos is Manzanar, the remains of which are still visible off U.S. Route 395 in California's Owens Valley. But another California internment camp at Tule Lake, in the state's far north, holds an especially sad history, that of the detainees who became known as the "no-noes" because of how they responded to a government questionnaire.

It's to the site of this camp that the New York Times recent followed a group of Japanese Americans, former detainees and their descendants who made a pilgrimage to Tule Lake. The story relates the history of the no-noes, why they were sent there and why, after their release, Tule Lake detainees were ostracized, even by other internment camp survivors:

In early 1943, about a year after Japanese-Americans were rounded up into the camps, the American authorities, seeking Japanese language speakers in the military, distributed a loyalty questionnaire to all adults.

Question No. 27 asked draft-age men whether they were willing to serve in the armed forces. No. 28 asked whether detainees would "swear unqualified allegiance to the United States" and "forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government."

Anything except a simple "yes" to the two questions meant relocation to Tule Lake, which became the most heavily guarded of the camps. Army tanks were stationed here, reinforcing the security provided by 28 guard towers and a seven-foot-high barbed wire fence.

Osamu Hasegawa, 90, recalled that his parents answered "no" after a heated family debate. Because his parents were born in Japan " Japanese immigrants were not allowed to become American citizens until 1952 because of discriminatory immigration laws " they feared that forswearing allegiance to the country of their birth would render them stateless while Mr. Hasegawa and his American-born siblings remained in the United States.

After his parents answered "no," Mr. Hasegawa became one of the nearly 6,000 Japanese-Americans at Tule Lake to renounce their American citizenship.

"They wanted to go back to Japan to keep the family together," Mr. Hasegawa said.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com