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Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Interview II
Narrator: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Torrance, California
Date: July 7, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-03-0024

<Begin Segment 24>

TI: I'm now going to switch gears. I'm not going to ask you questions about your archival work because it's well-documented in other places, especially the, I think what you call were the nuggets that you found as a researcher like the first edition of DeWitt's Final Report would be an example of that. But it's been pretty well-documented that your, the work that you did was really important to not only the coram nobis and also the redress, but just in terms of uncovering lots of information that was really helpful to scholars about what really happened during World War II. And I'm just curious in terms of your role and how you, when you look back at it, you had such a pivotal role. What do you attribute that to? I mean, why were you the person who was so key in finding so much?

AH: Well, I have to say, I was, I guess my training and my experience made me look at a lot of the little trees, not just the forest, but the details, and to try to connect dots. But in many cases, if it were not for the input of other people like in the coram nobis case, for example, since I don't have a legal background, I could only trust my intuition that a particular document was important, and that I had to count on those good minds, Dale Minami, Don Tamaki, who comprised the coram nobis law teams, to connect the dots for me. So without the help of those people, and like in William Hohri's case, Ellen Carson, the lawyer, for whom we, Jack and I, dug up information, and Angus Macbeth, the special counsel, for him to recognize that certain memos or certain reports were key to creating the report to convince the President and Congress, that this group of people were mistreated. For all these people, not myself alone. It took a lot of people who knew more than I did, or who had the wisdom and the training to be able to attach the importance and connect the facts that made it possible for me to get too much credit, really. If it weren't for all these people who did the thinking, a lot of the thinking.

TI: But let me, let me make sure I understand this. 'Cause when I talked to some of these others, they said in terms of constructing the story, but it wasn't like they were trying to construct the story, and then they called you, Aiko, and said, "So, Aiko, can you find this document or this document?" it was more of a matter that you uncovered things that were really powerful, and then had enough knowledge to say, "Oh, this is probably important," and you then gave it to them. And it was this really rich source of materials that they said, "Oh my gosh, with this material, we can now construct the story." I think, wouldn't you say that that was the case, more?

AH: I have to say, I think it took more -- I think I was fortunate enough to have come across certain documents that brought light to a particular subject, but it took somebody else with a different mind to interpret it in such a way as to be beneficial to either the coram nobis case, or to the Commission report, or to the class action lawsuit. So I don't want too much credit given to me. Just the fact that I did find, for example, the first version of the DeWitt report, that, I must say, it was good that I recalled certain things that pointed to the fact that there was a first version. And so what is it that the Supreme Court in 1944 relied upon in order to convict Korematsu, for example? I said maybe this is it. It was intuitive. But legally, I didn't know, and it took, it took the coram nobis people and Angus Macbeth to say, "Ah, racism, this proves injustice on the part of a general in the army, plus falsehoods of facts." So it took other minds to bring out the importance of what I did find, but I must say, I was glad I had remembered certain facts that called my attention to the possible importance of this thing.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2009 Densho. All Rights Reserved.