Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig Interview
Narrator: Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Glen Kitayama (secondary)
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

AH: Archivists have millions of things to deal, papers to deal with, thousands of books. They can't possibly know the history behind everything that they're responsible for in terms of custody. So anyway, he was very pleased about it. And then I called Peter Irons right away because I knew that he -- I had sent him the original batch of papers talking about this, all the changes that were made because it was important to the coram nobis case. And he came down from one of the universities where he was teaching at the time to confirm it. He said, "Oh, yes. This is it." So, we felt that that now, plus what he had found in Justice Department records that tied in with this book -- was going to be very precious, important evidentiary documentation for not just the coram nobis -- for the whole redress movement. Because it proved that in Korematsu especially, the government knew that there were certain things they should have told the Supreme Court. They relied on this book that was full of lies, and didn't mention to the Supreme Court that this book is not truthful and that things had been changed. So, this we were able to prove at the Hirabayashi case in 1985. And the judge, no question in his mind, he said, "The government did wrong." And so he right away, he vacated that conviction of Hirabayashi, right then and there. And I think in San Francisco, the same happened with Judge Patel, who vacated Korematsu case based on these findings. I think that probably explains the discovery of that. It was a book, it was not a, I guess you can call it a document, but it's not a piece of paper, it was a whole book which is, I think, 461 pages, something like that.

The version you can buy now is the revised version, of course. The changes were made. There are still some things in there that are very aggravating because it's full of lies. They didn't take the lies out. The lies include things like: the Japanese Navy was shelling or torpedoing every American ship that was leaving the West Coast, Pacific port. Now that, total lies, that's one thing -- and Japanese, were on the hills, in California, signaling to Japanese submarines. That's a bunch of lies. And that, things of that nature still appeared in that book because the government, the Supreme Court, not the... the Justice Department used that book to try to influence the Supreme Court in making a decision. They didn't take out these lies. The Justice Department people, some of our lower level people, knew that these were lies. And they asked the Solicitor General who was arguing for the War Department before the Supreme Court, the lower level people were telling the Solicitor General, "Please tell the Supreme Court that the final report is not -- that we disassociate ourselves with everything that's in the final report. If you don't tell the Supreme Court, we will be guilty of suppressing evidence." And this is the memorandum that Peter discovered in Justice Department files through the Freedom of Information Act, which I was able to retrieve for him under the mantle of the Commission authority, because he couldn't do it himself as a private citizen. He found it and he couldn't get a copy of it, so he asked me to get a copy of it under the authority of the Commission. So we, now this particular document, memorandum he found, tied in very neatly with the discovery of the report that I found. It showed the changes that were made, the alterations that were made and the fact that the Solicitor General of the United States, of the Justice Department, misrepresented facts, suppressed evidence before the Supreme Court in Korematsu. I'm not sure if, because my mind is so full of all these things, whether or not that explains the value of the book, the value of the memo, why Korematsu was -- why the Supreme Court was deceived. That was, the brilliant work by Dale Minami and his group convinced the judges. The way the coram nobis cases were laid out so clearly, factually that it was able to get a favorable decision in the coram nobis cases. And a lot relied upon the discovery of the documents.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.