Minoru Tamesa

Name Minoru Tamesa
Born September 11 1908
Generational Identifier


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. Tamesa worked as an oyster farmer and millworker prior to the war.

Incarcerated at Heart Mountain during World War II, 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.

He experienced difficulty finding a job after the war and eventually worked as a laborer in the foundry. He died in his fifties. 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://www.pbs.org/itvs/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.