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In Defense of JusticeJoseph Kurihara and the Japanese American Struggle for Equality$
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Eileen H. Tamura

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037788

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037788.001.0001

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(p.115) Chapter 8 Renunciation
In Defense of Justice

Eileen H. Tamura

University of Illinois Press

This chapter recounts how President Franklin Roosevelt signed Public Law (PL) 405 on July 1, 1944, which amended the Nationality Act of 1940 to allow U.S. citizens living in the United States to renounce their citizenship during wartime. Although not stated explicitly, the law was aimed at dissident Nisei. As Manzanar Project Director Ralph Merritt remarked of the statute, “This is the first time in the history of a civilized nation that a government has permitted a citizen, during a state of war, to renounce his citizenship.” Officials had several motives for favoring such a law. Some sought to have renunciants exchanged for U.S. citizens detained in Japan. Indeed, the chairman of the House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, Samuel Dickstein, suggested that the law's provisions be publicized in the camps, to be followed by notices “calling for volunteers to go to Japan in trade for Americans.”

Keywords:   Franklin Roosevelt, Public Law 405, Nationality Act of 1940, U.S. citizenship, dissident Nissei, House Immigration and Naturalization Committee

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