“Rebel With A Cause: The Life of Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga” (2016, 90 min.) by Janice Tanaka.
The biopicture by director Janice Tanaka is an endearing portrait of Japanese American icon Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, whose discovery of governmental misconduct during WWII was crucial to the National Council for Japanese Americans Redress lawsuit of 1983.
Herzig Yoshinaga joined the National Council for Japanese American Redress to provide historical documents for their $27 billion class action lawsuit against the government on behalf of the 120,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Aiko’s selfless hours and attention to detail would lead to her discovery of the smoking gun, and is regarded as the single most important piece of “suppressed” evidence. It is an unedited “tenth copy” of the original Final Report that was used to justify the incarceration of Japanese Americans and rumored to have been burned. This document finally exonerates Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi and Min Yasui, three men who had sued the U.S. Government in 1944 and lost.
Scholars and activists credit Aiko as the one person who made much of the justice that Japanese Americans won possible.
After the signing of the Redress Bill, Aiko worked to locate former incarcerees eligible for payment. She also continued her activism. Along with her husband Jack, she demonstrated against Apartheid in South Africa. In the late 1980s, together with her son-in-law, Warren Furutani, Aiko worked to put together a graduation ceremony for those Los Angeles Nisei who were denied their diplomas in 1942. This event launched a series of similar graduation ceremonies throughout the state.
Aiko continued to write articles and give talks to audiences about her experiences and contributions to the redress movement until her death in August of 2018.
With panel discussion to follow screening with filmmaker Janice Tanaka, redress activist Chizu Omori, former California state Assemblyman Warren T. Furutani, artist Nobuko Miyamoto, moderated by journalist Martha Nakagawa.