'Unfinished Business' Screening Kicks Off National Museum Redress Series on January 19

  • en

Jan 200819

Japanese American National Museum
369 E. First Street
Los Angeles, California, 90012
United States

LOS ANGELES.—Steven Okazaki’s Academy Award nominated documentary, "Unfinished Business: The Japanese American Internment" (1986) , will screen on Saturday, January 19, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, with Professor Mitch Maki providing special tours of the exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community, to provides historic context for the documentary that focuses on appeal of the wrongful convictions of three Japanese Americans during World War II.

"Unfinished Business" looked at the coram nobis cases of Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu and Minoru Yasui, all who were convicted of violating government restrictions against Japanese American during the war, and all who lost their appeals to the Supreme Court. In the 1980s, a law historian named Peter Irons along with a researcher named Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, uncovered evidence that the government had distorted or withheld information that would have been relevant to these cases.

Irons contacted the trio, all who agreed to appeal their convictions through the obscure writ of error coram nobis. Each of the individuals would file their appeals in the cities where they were arrested and three Sansei lawyers agreed to head the appeals, including Dale Minami (Korematsu, San Francisco), Peggy Nagae (Yasui, Portland) and Katherine Bannai (Hirabayashi, Seattle).

Okazaki, who won an Academy Award for his short documentary, "Days of Waiting" (1990), about a Caucasian artist who accompanied her Japanese American husband into a government-run camp during the war, captures Hirabayashi, Korematsu and Yasui with their lawyers as the appeals process moves forward.

Prof. Maki, co-author of Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress, will provide historic context on how these cases set the stage for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided an official apology and reparations to thousands of Japanese Americans wrongfully forced to leave their homes by the government. In his book, Maki notes that the coram nobis cases were instrumental in arguing for Japanese American redress. He will provide information on all of the cases, particularly for Hirabayashi, whose case was ultimately resolved in 1988. Professor Maki will provide tours at both 1 and 3:30 p.m.

This program is the first of a series under the umbrella of the National Museum’s “Redress Remembered: A Moment of National Redemption”, in which the subject of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 and its ramifications today are examined. Besides a series of public programs, the National Museum’s Annual Gala Dinner, set for April 19, 2008, has the theme, "Fulfilling the Promise of America: Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988". As part of its multi-state project, Enduring Communities: The Japanese American Experience in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, the National Museum is organizing the national conference, "Whose America? Who’s American? Diversity, Social Justice and Civil Liberties", set for Denver, Colorado, on July 3-6, 2008. Much of programming will focus on the subject of redress.

This public program is free to National Museum members or with general admission. To make reservations or for more information on “Redress Remembered”, call the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414, or go to www.janm.org.



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ckomai . Last modified Jul 09 2010 12:11 p.m.


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