Honoring The Powerful, Immeasurable Legacy Left By Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (left) with Manzanar Committee member Gann Matsuda at the
annual Day of Remembrance program in
Los Angeles on February 17, 2018.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Alisa Lynch

I’ve been “forced” to recall how I got started as a community activist quite a bit lately.

Indeed, back in June, when NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress; originally the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations) held their event to launch their new book about their incredible, highly impactful history, it reminded me of all the activists who came before me who have been mentors and teachers for my own community activism.

On the morning of July 19, I received word that Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga passed away the night before. She was just a little over a month away from celebrating her 93rd birthday.

Aiko is well-known in the Japanese American, Asian American, and broader civil rights communities for her tireless work for social justice since her time in New York after she was one of the 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated in American concentration camps and other confinement sites during World War II.

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Manzanar Committee Mourns The Loss of Legendary Community Activist Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, shown here during the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, April 28. 2017.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/Manzanar Committee.


LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee extends its deepest sympathies to the family, friends, and colleagues of Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, who passed away on July 18 in Torrance, California at the age of 92.

Herzig-Yoshinaga, who was one of the 120,000 Japanese/Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated in American concentration camps during World War II, is best known for her painstaking research in the National Archives where she discovered the original edition of Western Defense Command General John DeWitt’s Final Report, Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942, which clearly indicated that racism, not national security concerns or military necessity, was the primary motivating factor in the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast some 76 years ago.

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