Japanese Americans, Latest Group to Criticize Watada

KHNL News 8 reporter Diane Ako interviews Lt. Ehren Watada in Seattle.
KHNL News 8 reporter Diane Ako interviews Lt. Ehren Watada in Seattle.

SEATTLE, Washington (KHNL) - A whole new group of people is criticizing Lieutenant Ehren Watada for his actions. He's the Hawaii born soldier who refused to go to Iraq with his unit in June. Now SOME Japanese Americans are lobbing insults at him. KHNL News 8's Diane Ako was the only Hawaii reporter allowed to interview Watada one on one.

Lieutenant Ehren Watada has upset some Japanese American veterans from the 442nd. They say he brings shame on the Japanese American community.

They became soldiers during World War II to prove their loyalty to the US. The 442nd veterans are proud they volunteered to fight, even though the government was putting Japanese Americans in internment camps. Some vets say they're upset with Watada, who is ethnically half Japanese.

Ako asks: "Do you bring shame to the Japanese community?"

Watada maintains, "I would not say that. Not at all."

Watada is charged with missing movement, contempt towards officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. He says he won't ship out to Iraq because this an illegal war.

"How far does the government go? How many laws do they have to break? How many immoral and unjust acts do they have to conduct? How far does it have to go before you stop and say, 'I can't follow this?'"

Watada says he's loyal to all Americans.

"I didn't swear an oath to a certain person or group of people. I swore an oath to my country and to the constitution and to protect those things."

Japanese Americans - vets or otherwise- are not unified in their response to Watada. There are, certainly, many Japanese Americans who support the lieutenant and say he's standing up for their rights as Americans.