Book Club Discussion: No No Boy

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Community Event

Mar 20122
1:00p.m.

Japanese American Museum of San Jose
535 North 5th street
San Jose, California, 95112
United States

"No-No Boy" reaches into the inner conflict and personal struggle of the main character, Ichiro Yamada, who is haunted by his decision to refuse service in the U.S. military. Yamada made this difficult decision in the midst of a tumultuous period, during which his own government removed his constitutional rights and imprisoned him in an internment camp. The novel delves into Yamada's personal battle to live with himself and to find his place in the community.
 
The title of the book refers to Japanese Americans who answered 'no' to questions 27 and 28 of the highly controversial "loyalty questionnaire" that was administered to incarcerated Japanese Americans in 1943. The questionnaire contained two problematic questions: whether or not the internee would be willing to serve in the American armed forces and whether or not the internee would swear unqualified allegiance to the United States. Those who answered those two questions in the negative were labeled "No-No" and were deemed disloyal. "No-No's" were segregated and imprisoned in a separate, high-security camp. Many of them were ostracized from the Japanese American community.
 
The reasons why some internees answered "No-No" are complex and varied. Some people feared that they would be permanently separated from their Japanese parents if they answered the questions differently from their parents. Some people qualified their answers (e.g. "yes, I will serve, but only if my constitutional rights are restored") or refused to answer the questions. People who qualified their answers or failed to answer the questions were also considered to be "No-No."
 
The book club meets the first Friday of every other month and is always open to new members. Selections are chosen collaboratively at the end of each meeting and align with the JAMsj mission: the celebration of Japanese American art, history, and culture. Books are readily available at San Jose public libraries, online book retailers, and the JAMsj museum store. If you have questions, please contact Aggie Idemoto at (408) 268-4440 or aggie@jamsj.org.

 

JAMsj . Last modified Jan 09 2012 9:50 a.m.


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