Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Link to Libraries homepage
Link to Libraries homepage
Rutgers University Libraries

Japanese-Americans: Perspectives on Trans-Pacific Relations, WWII Internment, Meaning of Loyalty, Motherhood & Childhood, and Labor at Seabrook.: Meaning of Loyalty

Background information on Japanese American Internment for the students in the Knowledge & Power, mission course of Douglass Residential College, Fall '16. (Originally created for the Rutgers High School Institute Seminar. Spring '14)

Complex Identities, Multiple Loyalties

"It is hard to believe that any Japanese-American... felt 100 percent loyalty to Japan or to the United States in the 1930s if such loyalty meant the exclusion of emotional feelings and respect toward one or the other country. Available evidence and common sense suggest that a majority felt an attachment to both countries... The nisei could hardly be expected to reject their ancestral land, the birthplace of their parents, and the home of their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins." 

(from Hawaii under the Rising Sun by John J. Stephan)

Japan: Art and Culture, 1920-1945

The crane in this book cover represents an auspitious motif connected with the longevity of emperor and the strength of the nation. 

A vase with "Radiating Black and White Stripes" inspired by the Japanese military flag (from Deco Japan



American Gold Star Mothers, Inc is an organization of mothers whose sons and daughters served and died in the line of duty in the Armed Forcesof the United States of America or its Allies, or died as a result of injuries sustained in such service. 

Go For Broke National Education Center strives "to educate the public about  the responsibilities, challenges, and rights of American citizenship by using the life stories of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II."


Ichioka, Yuji. "Japanese Immigrant Nationalism, the Issei and the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1941." California History 69, no. 3 (09, 1990): 260-275.

Ichioka, Yuji.  "The Meaning of Loyalty: The Case of Kazumaro Buddy Uno." Amerasia Journal 23, no. 3 (12, 1997): 44

Ngai, Mae M. "The World War II Internment of Japanese Americans and the Citizenship Renunciation Cases." Chap. Chapter 5, In Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, edited by Ngai, Mae M., 175. Princeton, Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004.


Ina, Satsuki, Stephen Holsapple, Emery Clay III. From a Silk Cocoon. San Francisco: Center for Asian American Media, 2005.

Okada, John. No-No Boy. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979.

The Nisei

By 1930s, half of the Japanese in the United States were Nisei. 

According to John J. Stephan, there were two different stereotypes of Nisei before the World War II:

  1. Unassimilated minority with questionable loyalty to the United States
  2. "100 percent American character"

Founded in 1929, the JACL: Japanese American Citizens League is the oldest and the largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. This organization of Nisei professionals, declared in 1940:

"I am proud that I am an American citizen of Japanese ancestry, for my very background makes me appreciate more fully the wonderful advantages of this nation... I pledge myself ... to defend her against all enemies, foreign and domestic." 

      (from Library of Congress, Immigration, Japanese)



Loyalty Questionnaire and Segregation

In 1943, the War Relocation Authority decided to test the loyalty of all people of Japanese descent 17 years of age and older. The Loyalty Questionnaire was the instrument used with 80+ questions. The two inflammatory questions were #27 and #28. Those who answered NO-NO were segregated to a different camp from those who answered YES-YES. Those who answered YES-YES would be allowed to volunteer for a racially segregated U.S. Army unit. 

  • #27 for all males of military age: Are you willing to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States whenever ordered?
  • #28 for all adults: Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully  defend the United States from any or all attacks by foreign or domestic forces and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese Emperor, or any other government, power or organization? 

Loyalty and Patriotism

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team 

Gold Star Mothers at Seabrook (1953) 

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers web sites to: or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback Form.