Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig

Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig

Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig was born in Sacramento, California in 1924. Her family immigrated from Kumamoto, Japan in 1919. During the Depression, the Yoshinaga family moved to Los Angeles, California.

During World War II, Aiko was incarcerated first at Manzanar with her husband’s family. She transferred to Jerome, Arkansas with her newborn daughter to be with her family. In 1944, the Yoshinaga family left Jerome and resettled in New York. She divorced and remarried a Nisei soldier. She went with him to Japan where he worked during the Occupation period. One of her husband’s co-workers was her future husband, Jack Herzig.

After her return to the United States, Aiko became involved in Asian Americans for Action. Aiko and Jack played a pivotal role in the Redress Movement through their research at the National Archives in Washington D.C. The documents they found were instrumental in the coram nobis case that vacated the convictions against Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi. Aiko was also hired as the primary researcher for the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and then worked for the Department of Justice Office of Redress Administration to help identify individuals eligible for redress payments. (March 1, 2007)

Video clips

Description
Lack of political power led to camps
Results of being more American than Japanese
Family separated in the camps
Feeling imprisoned at camp
World War II hysteria against Japanese in New York City
Institutionalization as a bad aspect of camp
Positive experiences with Asian Americans for Action
Redress payments to Issei who did not enter camps
Waiting for the right time to start Redress Movement
State Department records show concern for treatment of Japanese American internees
Lack of support from fellow Nikkei lawyers during the war
Political motivation to keep the camps open until end of 1944 election

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