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Tule Lake Pilgrimage @SaveTuleLake
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In 1943, Tule Lake was designated a “segregation center”—the highest security prison camp for Japanese Americans, reserved for those who had been designated “disloyal” or troublemakers.
The basis for these loyalty judgments was a clumsily-worded questionnaire that many of the prisoners viewed as a trap.

Two particular questions, number 27 and 28, caused sharp conflicts and division within each camp, and led to agonizing turmoil within many families.
Question 27 asked, “Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?”
Q. 28 asked, “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the U.S. and faithfully defend the U.S. from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”
Prisoners stewed over the questionnaire with a combination of resentment, confusion and suspicion. If its real purpose was to determine loyalty, why had it not been given earlier in the Army’s temporary concentration camps?
They also puzzled over the meaning of the wording, wondering if a “yes” to 27 meant that the respondent was volunteering. Were they being asked to fight for freedom and democracy while their families remained imprisoned without cause?
For U.S.-born Nisei, was Q.28 a trick question, with a “yes” implying the respondent was, at some time, loyal to the emperor? For the immigrant generation of Issei, who were legally defined as “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” would a “yes” leave them stateless?
Especially given the context—the loyalty survey was being administered *after* the government had already locked them up and denied them their rights—a loyalty litmus test seemed cruel and perverse.
The loyalty survey demanded each person to swallow their anger and humiliation at such unfair treatment. Many could not and either refused to register or answered the loyalty questions “no-no.”
Refusal to fill out the questionnaire was defined as disloyalty. “No” responses were treated as proof of disloyalty. If one gave “yes” answers but added qualifying language like, “if my family is freed” or “if our rights are returned,” this was treated as evidence of disloyalty.
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