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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National Park Service Awards $3 Million For 2010 Japanese American Confinement Sites Grants

The following is a press release from the National Park Service.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Park Service (NPS) has awarded 23 grants totaling: $2.9 million to help preserve and interpret historic locations where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Read more of this post

Manzanar Committee Statement On The Passing of Florin JACL Leader Bob Uyeyama

Bob Uyeyama
Photo: Gann Matsuda

LOS ANGELES — The Manzanar Committee extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Bob Uyeyama, 75, of Elk Grove, California, who passed away on April 24, 2010, while attending the Florin Japanese American Citizens League’s (JACL) trip to the 41st Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage.

Uyeyama, who was imprisoned at the Rohwer and Jerome concentration camps in Arkansas during World War II, was helping guide a walking tour prior to the start of the Pilgrimage. He was sharing his recollections of his time in camp at Block 14, located near the Interpretive Center at the Manzanar National Historic Site, when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. Read more of this post

Words Can Lie Or Clarify Criticizes Euphemistic Language Used To Describe WWII Camps Used To Imprison Japanese Americans

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, was seventeen years old when she was imprisoned at Manzanar and later, at Jerome and Rohwer, Arkansas.

After camp, she became a community and political activist, but is best-known for poring over tons of documents in the National Archives, discovering evidence that the United States Government perjured itself before the United States Supreme Court in the 1944 cases Korematsu v. United States, Hirabayashi v. United States, and Yasui v. United States which challenged the constitutionality of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga
Photo: Discover Nikkei

Herzig-Yoshinaga’s research uncovered evidence that the government had presented falsified evidence to the Court, destroyed evidence, and had withheld other vital information. This evidence provided the legal basis Japanese Americans needed to seek redress and reparations for their wartime imprisonment in American concentration camps.

Recently, she wrote a paper on the use of euphemistic language to describe these camps. Indeed, the US Government officially called them “relocation centers” during World War II. To this day, the debate rages on regarding what they should be called. Read more of this post