Minoru Tamesa


Name Minoru Tamesa
Born September 11 1908
Died April 11 1964
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Draft resistance leader and member of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee (FPC). Minoru Tamesa was born and raised in the Seattle area, where his family ran a poultry farm and later an orchard that became famous for its peaches. Tamesa attended the University of Washington and worked at a sawmill and at the family farm before the war.

With the outbreak of World War II and the subsequent mass removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, Tamesa and his father were sent first to the Pinedale Assembly Center, then to the Tule Lake, California, concentration camp. When Tule Lake became the War Relocation Authority's designated "segregation center," he transferred to Heart Mountain. There he became part of the draft resistance movement through the Fair Play Committee, at one point trying to walk out the front gate of the camp to prove he was not a free citizen. He subsequently refused to report for his pre-induction physical, resulting in his arrest and eventual trial and conviction. Along with six other leaders of the FPC, and journalist James Omura, he was later charged with conspiracy to counsel, aide, and abet draft resistance, with all but Omura found guilty. He was given a sentence of two years, but was already serving a three year sentence for his draft evasion conviction. He served out his sentence and was released in 1947. Along with other draft resisters, he was pardoned by President Harry S. Truman at the end of 1947.

He returned to Seattle subsequently, where he experienced difficulty finding a job. He eventually found work at the Olympic Foundry, a business known to be friendly to Japanese Americans. He died of leukemia at age 56 in 1964. His father, Uhachi Tamesa, who in later life became a well known pioneer Issei in Washington, started a scholarship in his name that is ironically administered by the Japanese American Citizens League.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Biography on Conscience and the Constitution site, http://resisters.com/conscience/the_story/characters/tamesa_min.html.

Chin, Frank. Born in the USA: A Story of Japanese America, 1889–1947. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Muller, Eric L. Free to Die for Their Country: The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Seattle JACL Scholarships. Seattle JACL website.

Yamamura, Susan. "Minoru Tamesa: The Quiet Man Who Came to Dinner." Discover Nikkei, Apr. 11–13, 2017.

Footnotes