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

<Begin Segment 1>

LH: Interview with Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, interviewers are Larry Hashima and Glen Kitayama on Friday, September 11, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. Thank you for agreeing to do the interview with us.

AH: No, it's a pleasure.

GK: Well, I wanted to start off with your involvement with Asian Americans for Action and how did this all come about?

AH: Asian Americans for Action. That was a group of, I guess what persons call progressives, activists in New York City. It was established by, as I understand it, two ladies: Kazu Iijima and Shizu "Minn" -- Minn is her nickname -- Matsuda. And they were senior citizens, which was rather unusual because so many Nisei, and especially women who were already senior citizens, didn't tend to involve themselves in social issues that were, that was really running the, throughout the country during that period which is late '60s, in the '60s and the '70s.

The reason I got involved was that Kazu Iijima's husband, Tak Iijima who was a 442 vet, I had known many years prior to the time I heard about Triple, we call it Triple A. Tak was the choirmaster of the church that I had been going to at the time. The one -- I think there were two Christian churches where Japanese Americans would congregate and go to services at the time after the war. The one I was going to was the Japanese American United Church, and Tak Iijima was the choirmaster. I happened to belong to the choir. I had a tremendous respect for Tak's talent as a musician, as an organist, pianist, teacher, and his patience and compassion -- putting up with those of us who were such poor singers.

At any rate, I knew Tak. And one day in the late '60s, I bumped into him. I had not seen him for many years. I bumped into him -- because I had gotten away from the church. And I asked him what was he doing and he said he was still teaching and he was head of a (high school) music department in Brooklyn. And he said, he invited me to come to a meeting, asked me if I would be interested. I did, I accepted. It was in a small loft, I believe it was in Greenwich Village, and I went to this meeting.


I was really impressed with the feeling that pervaded between the people and the subjects they talked about. And I found out it was really sort of a study group for people who were interested in learning more about other systems of government. That was the first time I saw Don Nakanishi and Glenn Omatsu, they were students, I think either Harvard or Yale, someplace, and I think they were looking around, too, and they were sitting in on this thing. So I, actually my first meeting with them goes back, ooh, '69 maybe. How many years is that? Thirty something years, almost thirty years I think 'cause I lost track of them between (that) time but I'm so happy to be back in the circle, in the circle again.

At any rate, this group I attended monthly meetings to learn a little bit about our democracy, our democratic system and about Marxism, Leninism, about which I knew absolutely zilch. Nothing I knew about these things. But I tried to pick some of the good points about all of these different systems and thinking, "Oh, how wonderful to have a utopia," if we could develop a country that picked the best out of all these systems. This organization interested me because they were tackling issues like -- for Asian Americans -- to me it was interesting -- they would talk about the Vietnam War. And this was of course earlier in the '60s, late '60s -- oh, that's right, we were still in the war at the time, of course. Because they were not afraid to walk the streets of New York joining other groups to decry our involvement in Vietnam. Shouting slogans, carrying placards and doing the things that demonstrators generally do who want to protest government action. I'd never done anything like that and I felt as a Nihonjin, I thought, "We don't do these things like that," you know, and we are, we're quiet and we discuss things behind doors. We don't go parading our emotions out in the streets, especially in New York City.

Well, I was so taken by the sincerity of this group and how they really felt brotherhood with the oppressed throughout so many countries, and especially at this particular point, the Asian country (of) Vietnam. Therefore, I decided, well, instead of just talking about these issues over the kitchen table, it would behoove me to try to do something, join a group like this, for which I had an affinity, and show how I feel. If we don't do this and let the government know that there's those of us who are Americans who don't approve of what's going on, then I felt like I'd be right back in 1942 where we didn't show them we didn't like what they were doing to us. I mean, we just were so compliant because that is the nature of the Japanese person, to, to respect authority and do what the authoritative figure tells us to do.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

AH: Therefore, when I joined this group I was amazed that these senior citizen ladies were willing to go out in the streets and shout and let the government know, "We don't like what you're doing and we're part of this country and you're, with our tax money, you're carrying on this unwanted war." Well, I decided I'd take the plunge and join one of these marches. And I was just as nervous as a cat. You know, walking down the streets of New York, carrying a placard, having so many people on the sidewalks watching you and taunting you. And especially if you're Asian, you know, they are saying nasty things like, you know, "Go back to where you came from," and, "What do you gooks think you're doing?" Things like that. It was terrifying for me.

And wouldn't you know, the first march I ever did in Greenwich Village, they had a picture of the march, quite a large picture, and who is in the picture in the middle of the picture? Me. And I thought, "Oh-oh. Wonder what is my family is going to say?" Sure enough, my family was not very pleased, the rest of my sisters, siblings -- not very pleased with what I was doing. They were a good, quiet Christian family, wonderful people, but they thought I was always very hard to handle, and here I go again. Black sheep of the family, involving myself in activities that would be frowned upon by the rest of the community, most likely. And my sister very quietly let me know that she thought, "What are you doing? Don't you know what you're doing is going to affect the rest of us? How do you think I'm going to feel when I go to church?" That kind of quiet pressure. But it... they realized that that's just not going to stop me, because I felt that I was, what we were doing was right. But it was an experience. I learned from these people because they were just full of the world in their heart. All these people in the Triple A, I learned so much from each member, and I would say, as I started to say earlier before this interview, that they turned my head, my thinking.

And that, I'm sure, had the most effect -- my connection -- on starting to think about our own experience back in wartime, and why did it happen, and what we were suffering from as a result. I never really thought that much about it. In the first place, of course, I was raising children and it was pretty busy. Survival was the main concern right after the war. But it was, the Triple A experience is the thing that triggered my becoming what some people call activist. The Triple A had also instituted a program, an annual program to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. That was a great thing, I thought. You know in New York City, what we did was, started with the churches, and said, "Can we, can we use the church for just a program?" And I think the Japanese community, as small as it was in New York City, looked a little askance at this group, because of the kinds of issues they, they were interested in, and because, particularly because of the lack of hesitancy to protest publicly about many government actions. And because my family was so closely associated with the church there for so many years, and since I had been a member of the church, it was a little -- we got access to the church a little easier because the good, connection with my family. And through that, though, you know, we were able to recruit a few people who belonged to the church, and saw the righteousness of their (AAA) objectives in dealing with some of these problems, at least to talk about it, to try to understand it, and then protest if necessary.

So this movement to commemorate Hiroshima and Nagasaki continued annually after that, and I thought that was another very good thing that the Triple A had initiated, and made Japanese Americans aware. Not only Japanese Americans, but primarily Japanese Americans who were pretty indifferent about a lot of things. And since you don't have the kind of population of Japanese Americans in New York that you have in the West Coast, it is hard to get a feeling of community there. Many of the people (who) used to live in New York City, Manhattan, have moved, had moved out to the suburbs, like they have from L.A., too. But there were not enough in number of the Japanese American to give you a great feeling of roots of community. So of course, the church served -- the Buddhist church there and the Christian church -- served as a central point of meeting and of holding gatherings in New York City.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

AH: The Asian Americans for Action continued to do its work. I remember being, recall the Native American Affairs and remember meeting Ted Means, Russell Means' brother. Oh, and that was when I think Peltier was arrested and we were trying to help to get a fair trial for him. We involved ourselves in various issues. I remember Zimbabwe, Rhodesia -- that was one of the issues. One of the leaders, of course, was Mary Yuri Kochiyama, and she, of course, had so many connections. She met everybody from the whole world and I remember she brought, I think it was Robert Mugabe's brother to one of the meetings to talk about the problems before Zimbabwe was turned over to the natives -- this was, they were under colonial control. But you can see the wide range of activities in which we got involved, and had, of course, largely to do with the Iijima's family and Kochiyama family and Minn Matsuda, primarily those three. Because so many of the -- a number of the members that were, not recruited because there was no recruiting going on -- but came from the Christian church -- there was a real nice connection, that they were able to take back some of the messages to the church, about oppression in other countries, to people who worked at the headquarters at the Methodist or Presbyterian church in New York City. If they heard about some of the things happening in Triple A, they could take the message back to the headquarters, and make people in the church, in the international division or wherever, aware that -- "How about paying some attention to these subjects?" So it had subtle, but far reaching consequences, I think, that Asian Americans for Action's activities generated.

And I have always been proud to say that I had been one of the early members. And I was very sorry to hear that they had disbanded and I don't know why. I left New York City to come to live in Washington. I think the times changed, international affairs, different kind -- of course, the Vietnam war ended to begin with, that helped, I'm sure. But each one of those persons who were members previously of Triple A, I think they became involved in other issues, like women's issues. There's an Asian women's organization. Some of the members involved themselves with that. And I think there were other movements, so the work actually hasn't died. I think it's taken on different names.

GK: When did you actually move to Washington, D.C.?

AH: I came down to, I went to Washington, D.C. in 1978, I think it was.

GK: And Triple A was still active at that time, when you had moved?

AH: Yeah, I think, I think it was still active. Or else it was starting to wind down, '77, '78. I have a feeling they were still in existence at the time. I got involved in my work and a lot of personal things, you know.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

LH: Now, you'd mentioned that the Triple A had actually gotten you started in thinking about your own experiences in the camps, and things of that nature. So how did you take action? When you started thinking about that, what did that make you pursue?

AH: Oh, yes, because when we started to talk about the camps and the connection of why the government -- we didn't have the facts, of course, at the time -- but we started talking about why was it that the government did this to the ethnic Japanese. And, oh, had I known then what I know now, after having gone to the archives I would have felt like a queen. But since we didn't know, we discussed that a lot and we... I think that it was "never again." That those two words stick in my mind. That was on a big poster: "never again." That, had to do with the camps. I'm trying to think of the origin of why we had a protest, and I think it had to with the camps. The Holocaust movement, the anti-Holocaust movement among the Jews, I think they used "never again" as one of its rallying cries. And I guess we picked that up, Triple A, and we had a "never again" short movement to make people aware of what happened to the Japanese Americans. And because I remember seeing posters and I may even still have one, as a matter of fact. I would have to check with Kazu Iijima or Mary Kochiyama to recall exactly what that particular subject was, but we started talking about the camps.

And then in 1976, Michi Weglyn's book came out, and we as a group went to listen her at the church. And I was very impressed with her work. I was impressed with... her work was just so meticulous, and she was not about to put anything in that book that she couldn't say, "I got this information from the government." No one could refute it and I could tell that that was her, her objective, to get the truth out. So we met Michi Weglyn, so I've known her now for twenty years. At that time, 1976 is when her book came out. And she impressed me so much, I read her book and I was astounded. We learned so much about our own history, about the camps, through her book. I consider her book the classic. Roger Daniels wrote a great book, too. A couple of them, but particularly Concentration Camps U.S.A earlier. Somehow -- and his book was great, it was good, but it was not as broad, and it focused on a certain part of our, the camp experience. It was not quite as illuminating to me as Michi Weglyn's.

So with that feeling of starting to understand what happened to us, through the war, because of this camp experience, when I moved down here to Washington, D.C., I left my position, of course, my job in New York City and thought, "Good. Now I'm going to rest and be a homemaker, retired, now my children were grown up, and I can now can enjoy my sunset years." Well, after a while, I did get bored, I had been leading such an active life and I started talking to myself at home, because there was nobody else. Jack was working all day and I was by myself and I knew nobody in Virginia, absolutely nobody. I lived in, way out in the suburbs of Virginia at the time, much further than where I live now. So I decided, well this is a good time and I have some free time. I think I'll go to the archives and start looking to see what kind of information the government has on me, about the camps and my family.

So I went to the National Archives, and I was quite surprised at the amount of information that they had about me. But then when I think back, yes, when we went into camp, we filled out all kinds of forms. And so why shouldn't they have this, but I was surprised they kept it. Little old inconsequential me? But they kept everybody's papers: school records, dental records, medical records, letters that went in and out of camp. They kept everything and they ended up putting them in individual folders for each person. If you were a child, your papers may have ended up in your mother or father's folder. But, and sometimes there were individual folders I know for children, too. I remember seeing some drawings, report cards, things like that. However, as I started to do this work for myself, my family, looking up records, the archivists there said, "Do you know there is some wonderful records about this camp experience in the archives, and there's not enough people looking at it, it's so interesting. Would you like some help to find it?" Well, sure why not, I have the time.

And so I started to examine those records, and they grabbed me, absolutely grabbed me. So one, of course, I started with the War Relocation Authority records, 'cause that's where our records were kept. Then all these records referred to other records like military records, or State Department records, which means you have to go to different branches in the archives -- the same building, but different branches. And so, the search spread, and spread, and spread. And I would call Michi Weglyn, and said, "Look, your book said this particular document was, is in this particular branch." And we would discuss my being able to find it, or not to find it, or the consequences so we carried on a lot, long distance conversations for years and years while I went through this. She was so encouraging, so generous with her time. I just love that lady. Anyway, that's how my search started, that's how it evolved.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

AH: By the time the commission started to form, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, that was voted, established in 1980. President Carter signed a law establishing that commission in July of 1980. And then they started looking for the commissioners. Nine commissioners were appointed. Then they started looking for staff. And when the staff was, Executive Director was chosen and administrative people, then they had to start looking for researchers. So I said, "Well I know quite bit about this now, so I guess why not, I'd like to make some contribution." And I applied for a position. And I, they were, desperately needed somebody. And with the fact that I had been doing research by that time for a couple of years, I guess, and I knew the system, they decided that they would take me on. And so I served with the Commission for two years, until it closed its door in June, end of June of 1983.

And during that period, I was able to contribute about six to eight thousand documents that I had by that time collected. And the archive -- and the Commission sort of didn't know where to start doing this research. So I said well, "(They) gotta start reading some stuff," and so Jack helped me bring our collection to the Commission to use as a basis. From there we could build, and it served its purpose very well. I had some of the young people on the staff help, to go to the archives to do follow-up research. It was my duty to prepare reports, or actually to hand over primary, important key documents to Angus Macbeth, who was the Special Counsel for the Commission, and to his editors for them to read, assimilate, analyze and include in the report (Personal Justice Denied). I threw thousands of documents at Mr. Macbeth and the editors for them to choose from. And they were all important. And they were all in favor of the government doing something remedial, taking some remedial action for Japanese Americans. There was nothing in those reports that would, was negative about Japanese Americans. There were always allegations of perhaps some kind of possible sabotage activity but there were never... because people didn't know Japanese Americans or Japanese at the time, so they were working with negative stereotypes. But there was nothing in those documents in the archives that would indict Japanese or Japanese Americans as disloyal people. Therefore, it was a pleasant task to be able to, to find what I felt were key documents on which the Commission could base its study and base its recommendations.

And I think those, Mr. Macbeth and the editorial staff did a fantastic job. It had to have been fantastic, it moved the Congress to vote for reparations. I don't like to use "reparation" -- redress -- to vote for redress for Japanese Americans, because the report was based on papers that came right out of the government. Congress could not refute those facts and everything proved that the government had unconstitutionally taken away the rights of Japanese Americans, deprived them of liberty, all those wonderful things the Constitution gives to us, the government deprived us of. And these documents that we, that the government, that the Commission used to make this report, they're primarily the same, only... yes, same as the ones that were used by the coram nobis lawyers, they were used by the class-action lawsuit, NCJAR, William Hohri vs. United States. Primarily the same documents. There were a few more key documents we found, I think, after the Commission closed, Jack and I were still doing some research for the cases and we found a couple more things of importance to the court cases. However, the Commission report was definitely instrumental in influencing congressmen and senators to consider their heretofore opposition to making financial compensation a must for Japanese Americans.

The fact that we had Nikkei congressmen and senators was a tremendous help, because all of those fellows and I guess -- well, Mrs. Mink came later -- but Mineta and Matsui, Inouye, Spark Matsunaga, they were so highly respected by their colleagues that whenever they had some kind of a bill they were pretty much able to get a lot of support, because they were so well-respected. And this was a hard, hard bill because it cost money. However, I credit them a great deal for the success. I think the lobbying and the mailing probably helped.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

AH: There's no question in my mind in the coram nobis cases -- three cases succeeded. And the, even though the class-action lawsuit was dismissed on technicalities, the threat of it hanging over Congress, to me was a major, major factor in the Congress passing that bill. Actually, I read some of the comments made by the participants before the meeting. Those of us who participated were asked to read these comments, and then that would lay a good basis for questions and discussions. And I thought it was a great idea. I read through many of them and I see there was a misunderstanding on the part of some of the participants about of the effect of the court cases, coram nobis and Hohri vs. U.S., the influence or the effect of those court cases on the legislation.

I think they had a tremendous influence on Congress, the legislators to consider the legislation, passing the legislation. We spoke to congressmen and especially in the House, we spoke to Barney Frank after the bill was passed, long after at a social event one time. And we asked Mr. Frank, "Can you tell us, now that it's all over with, what you think was the effect of the class-action lawsuit on the bill, the redress bill?" And he said, "There's no question about it." Why? Because at the time they voted that bill -- this is to be understood, the timeframe is very important -- the time the Congress, House voted that bill, the Supreme Court had not yet come down with the decision on Hohri. I think the Supreme Court was waiting a little bit to see what Congress would do. [Laughs] And Mr. Reagan, President Reagan signed the bill in August 1988. Supreme Court denied hearing Hohri in October. By that time, I think they figured, Supreme Court Justices figured, "Well Congress has voted them, the Japanese Americans an amount, $20,000 per survivor or heirs, so why do we need to hear this?" But I think they were actually, I think they were little afraid to hear it because the opening up and going to trial -- an open trial of Hohri vs. U.S. -- would have brought up a discussion, definitely, of the validity of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, you know, all those cases. They would have had to look at it again and say, and talk about the constitutionality question, which had never been addressed by the Supreme Court. Even in the wartime cases, the Supreme Court of those, of 1944, did not address the constitutionality question of exclusion and incarceration. They addressed curfew, they addressed the law, when military regulations that said a Japanese person must report for quote "evacuation" we call it exclusion. They addressed this thing about curfew with Mr. Hirabayashi, however, they never tackled the constitutional question.

Now, it was one of the primary goals of Hohri vs. United States, not to get redress financial compensation alone, but to define all of the injuries, specifically the deprivation of privacy, the deprivation of the right to travel, the deprivation to assemble, freely, assemble. Not only that, but to reopen, to reconsider Korematsu. And to actually wipe it off the books. The lower courts in 1983, four, five, four or five, I guess, did wipe, did vacate Korematsu, Hirabayashi, but they never, it did not erase those cases from the books, because the Supreme Court is the only body that can erase its own decisions, okay. It's very hard to understand some of these legal things. It's only because I got involved in doing some of the research with my husband for these cases that I now understand and I can say "coram nobis" and I can say "sovereign immunity," you know, without tripping over those words, and I understand those few concepts now. I have -- and it's because of the wonderful legal people that we worked with -- patient, knowledgeable, and just loving. Peter Irons, and Dale, and Ellen Carson and Don Tamaki, all those, Dennis Hayashi, all those people. Just lovely people and I learned so much, Jack and I learned so much from them. As lay persons, it's difficult to deal with these legal issues, but I learned the process where you start a case, it goes up to another court, it goes to Appeals, it gets transferred to another court, and goes up to the Supreme Court. And I learned that if you lose a case, you can appeal. If you win, there is no reason to appeal to a higher court. Okay. In Hohri, we lost, so we appealed (from) the lower court, so we appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided not to hear us. And as I told you, I don't know if it was because the law was already passed for redress in Congress or whether they really didn't want to hear it. In the coram nobis case, the coram nobis lawyers won and the government did not want to appeal to the Supreme Court. I knew, I know they knew they were going to lose. I'm sure, so, they didn't appeal those decisions.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

LH: Well, I'd like to go to a sort of another question, actually, if we could. Yesterday, during the big panel session, you mentioned a particularly good story about finding a key document for the coram nobis cases. I was wondering if you can recall that story for us again, finding the "tenth copy" as it were.

AH: Oh, yes, the book.

LH: The book, yes...

AH: In 1943, General DeWitt, who was the commanding general of the Western Defense Command, who was greatly responsible for the exclusion of Japanese Americans, wrote a book called Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942. Actually, his name appears as the author, but we know that it was Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen who did the writing. I mean, you could, there is no question about it when you read, when you go through the archives that he was the total architect. And I think Mr. -- Colonel Bendetsen was also the architect of the Executive Order 9066. We have some documents that almost unquestionably -- I don't think you even have to read between the lines to realize that it was he who in conjunction with Mr. McCloy and Provost Marshall General Gullion -- they are the makers of E.O. 9066. Mr. Roosevelt just signed it. But, of course, he approved it but, so he signed it.

Okay, now General DeWitt issued, wrote this report. And I don't want to use the word, I don't think I want to use DeWitt, I think I want to use Bendetsen, because I think he is primarily responsible. The final report in the name of the General DeWitt was written by Bendetsen. Okay, I'm repeating that. Okay, in 1943, ten copies of this report were printed, type was set. But only ten copies bound like a finished product. And Colonel Bendetsen and General DeWitt were so sure that it was such a wonderful report that they told the printers, "Don't break down this type. Just leave it as is, we're going to give you orders for more prints." They sent copies, three copies to the Secretary of War, three copies to Chief of Staff George Marshall and copies to Mr. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, or two copies, I guess. And they saved a couple of copies in the Western Defense Command Headquarters in Presidio, San Francisco.

Okay. When Mr. McCloy saw this report, he hit the ceiling. He said, "Some of the statements in this report are not -- do not reflect the policy of the War Department. And it was not right for the general to make these statements without clearing it with us." And so he called long distance, Mr. McCloy, who was in charge of the Japanese question for the War Department, and Mr. Stimson, the Secretary of War, did everything Mr. McCloy said because he felt this was the expert, he's going to take care of it. Mr. McCloy called Bendetsen, Colonel Bendetsenm and raised hell with him. He said, "How, you can't do this, this report is just nothing but a self-serving, self-aggrandizement document for the General. And besides, there are several things he says in here that show what happened to the Japanese Americans was based on racist, racism, bigotry and we cannot have an official document, with approval of the War Department stamp on it published for public consumption and for international reading that's full of this kind of nonsense." Even though Mr. McCloy may have believed that, all the things written in there, he didn't want it in print for ridicule and for criticism later.

One of the things, for example, that I did not mention during the session, that Mr. McCloy objected to was that the report said Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast because no matter how long it took, we would never be able to determine whether or not they are loyal to the United States. Now, Mr. McCloy said, "Now if that is not a racist, bigoted statement, what is?" And Mr., General DeWitt's statement also said, "Well, we had to, we didn't have time to separate the sheep from the goats." That put us in a such a category, sub-human nature, even Mr. McCloy objected to that. The other thing the statement said was that, "We want to keep these people, anybody with Japanese blood, 1/16th Japanese blood, in these camps for the duration of the war." And as I mentioned yesterday, Mr. McCloy was horrified at that idea, because he wanted to clean out the camps right away, as soon as possible. He wanted them to be relocated outside the military zone and to start homes elsewhere because by the end of the war he did not want some conditions comparable to Native Americans' reservations, having Japanese American reservations that the government would be responsible for taking care of, and he was determined the camps be closed as soon as possible. But, he was trying to give General DeWitt some respect as a commander, however, this was just too much for him to take, and he was not pleased about the report.

Okay, so he said to Colonel Bendetsen, "I thought you were going to show me this report and let me approve it before you issued it." And he said, Bendetsen said, "Oh, don't worry, there's only ten copies of these we printed." He said, McCloy said, "Bound, already finished?" Colonel Bendetsen said, "Yes. And we made arrangements with the printer that we're going to have more copies made but I wanted to show you what a finished product looked like." So, well, Mr. McCloy was totally unhappy with not just those three or four things I told you about, but many other parts of the report. And so this began a series of memos and telephone conversations between the West Coast and the War Department in Washington as to the nature of the changes, the words to be changed, the phrases to be knocked out. And I knew that this had taken place because I saw a file. And I saw the file which included -- after the corrections were made and the newer version was printed. There was a warrant officer who was charged with making sure that anything having to do with the original version of the final report be destroyed, including galley proofs or everything.

So I found this document signed by Warrant Officer Theodore J. E. Smith saying that, "I have witnessed the destruction of galley proofs, memos, letters having to do with the first version of the final report." Okay, so since I knew the history behind the fact that there was an original version, I had seen it; that was the only reason I recognized this particular book that was sitting on the corner of an archivist's desk that I was thumbing through. I looked at it and said, "Ooh, this looks like the final, DeWitt's final report." But I noticed in the margin many handwriting things: "delete," "scratch," "change to," "move to page so and so." And, oh, my goodness. This is one of the first versions. And this is the one that they could not locate. There had been ten copies, messages and cablegrams went back and forth between McCloy's office and the Western Defense Command saying, "Hey, we got nine copies back, where is the tenth copy? We've got to find it." Well, apparently they never found it. I never saw any documents saying, "Here is the tenth copy," or anything. It ended up in somebody's office in the War Department when everything was moved over to the archives. It got mixed in with all the papers that belonged to the War Department. Either the War Department downtown -- in Washington or Western Defense Command. I think it's the Western Defense Command, because they worked from the notes to make the changes. So I recognized this as that one, the tenth copy that was missing. And I told the archivist, I said, "Do you know what you have here?" No, he didn't realize. And I gave him a brief run-down. And I thought, he was really tickled about it because there was supposedly, it was supposed to have been lost. And here he, now he had it. Somebody said, "Well why didn't he know about it?"

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<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.

<Begin Segment 9>

LH: I think that's the great thing about archival research is that you have all these pieces to the puzzle that you keep getting to and you know that there are missing pieces. And so this one of those instances where you knew the piece was missing and you actually did find it. Instead of when, usually archival research, you know there is something there that you know you'll never find.

AH: That's right.

LH: And so...

AH: I've been asked by people who said, "Are they hiding things?" I said, "How do I know they're hiding things, unless I know what I'm looking for and I can't find it." I have a feeling, there was a question in the plenary session saying yesterday, "Was something done on purpose, do you think the government was hiding something on purpose?" I think that was the nature of the question. And I don't think so. I don't think if -- maybe there's something that our National Security Agency is holding back, perhaps. But in terms of our history, of our Japanese American history, I have never felt that there was anything really being hid. I've seen documents that are saying, "This document was removed from the file for security purposes." But usually you can trace those somehow, you can trace them back.

And it's a matter of, sometimes, of simple filing. I think people look at these files, they don't put them back where they belong. I tell you, I blame a lot of it on researchers. If it's misfiled, oftentimes, it's because some researcher has pulled out a file from a box and put it down, pulled out another file from a box, put it down, and then maybe mixed them up. Not on purpose, perhaps, but without thinking. Once researchers look at a piece of paper, they think, "Oh great, I'll Xerox this," and then they don't care where they put it back. I've seen this happen. And it's really upsetting because we put a citation on it. We found it here, this box, this folder and then you go to that and it's not there because somebody had not put it back in the same place. So, researching takes a lot of detail work, but it's challenging and it's fun. It's been my life for the last fifteen to twenty years. My second career. Well, I have not yet retired, but I'm looking forward to it.

LH: Well, thank you very much for speaking with us.

AH: It was a pleasure.

LH: Thank you.

AH: It was a pleasure.

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.