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[R.I.P.] Jack Herzig - Fought for Japanese American Redress

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  • madchinaman
    Jack Herzig, J-A Redress Champion, Dead at 83 Mei Ying Liu By Sam Chu Lin, Sep 02, 2005 http://news.asianweek.com/news/view_article.html?
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2005
      Jack Herzig, J-A Redress Champion, Dead at 83
      Mei Ying Liu By Sam Chu Lin, Sep 02, 2005

      Jack Herzig, of Gardena, Calif., an unsung hero of the Japanese
      American redress movement, died at home Sunday, August 21, with his
      family gathered around him. He was 83, and suffered from colon

      He and his wife, Aiko Yoshiniga-Herzig, were researchers with the
      Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians and
      played key roles in winning redress for 120,000 J-As who were sent
      to 10 concentration camps during World War II.

      "Jack and Aiko played the role of researchers who looked into
      thousands of pages of actual government documents that showed in
      fact that racism did play a key role in the effort to put Japanese
      Americans into these camps," Warren Furutani, Herzig's son-in-law,

      Aiko Yoshiniga-Herzig stated, "I hope that the Commission findings
      and the coram nobus case, William Hohri, et al. versus the United
      States, the class action lawsuit –– and those activities have
      brought some acknowledgement that this country mistreated a minority
      group just due to its ethnicity."

      Born in Teaneck, N.J., Herzig was a veteran of World War II and the
      Korean War. He parachuted and helped to liberate Corregidor from the
      Japanese and was involved in counterintelligence in occupied Japan.
      He retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel.

      Civil rights attorney Dale Minami said Herzig "made another major
      contribution when he challenged and destroyed the argument that the
      MAGIC Japanese diplomatic cables justified the internment."

      "America had broken the Japanese code, and they were able to
      intercept cables from Japan to various embassies," Minami
      elaborated. "A few of them discussed the idea of engaging Americans
      of Japanese ancestry and other groups like African Americans into a
      spy network [helped] them gain information about the United States …
      people like Dan Lungren [California Congressman] and author Michelle
      Malkin made the enormous leap to claim that it justified the
      internment of Japanese Americans even though there was no spy

      "What Jack did was systematically review those cables and put them
      in a context that this was a wish list by Japan rather than an
      actual strategy. … They never found anyone who had been recruited by
      Japan, and those cables themselves barely came to the attention of
      the policy makers who already decided to intern the Japanese
      Americans anyway."

      The Herzigs formerly lived in Falls Church, Va., and moved to
      Southern California last year to continue their work. They
      contributed their papers to UCLA's Asian American Studies Center,
      and they were putting the finishing touches on a manuscript of all
      of the transcripts of all of the ten commission hearings.

      Don Nakanishi, head of UCLA's Asian American Studies Centers,
      expects the project to be completed soon.

      "Jack was sadly not able to see it fully completed," Nakanishi
      stated. "But he was very much a part of the compilation and the
      editing of it."

      "Jack and Aiko are not PhD types," he added. "In some ways, they
      were self-taught researchers and archivists who went through in
      great detail through the National Archives and discovered something
      that was supposed to have been destroyed by the government."

      "He had a deep and profound passion for social justice," Minami
      offered. "I believe that was formed not only from his own
      experiences, but his relationship with Aiko. … They both had that
      same passion to make sure what was done to Japanese Americans was

      For Herzig's legacy, his family urges the public to be vigilant.

      "I'm really concerned because we seemed not to have learned the
      lesson even though redress had been given to Japanese Americans for
      the mistreatment they had," Aiko Yoshiniga-Herzig commented. "I
      still think the way this country is treating and viewing Arab
      Americans here makes me sad. … I just hope people will remember Jack
      for his fight for justice."

      In lieu of flowers, individuals should send donations to their own
      favorite charity in the name of Jack Herzig.

      Herzig is survived by his wife, Aiko; two daughters, Gerrie and
      Lisa; two sons, David and Thomas; and six grandchildren.

      "Much of what was said by the government was in fact a public
      relations spin. They used concepts like `national security' to put
      citizens in jail."

      – Warren Furutani, L.A. City Community College Board of Trustees

      "Jack was a passionate fighter for redress … He and Aiko worked so
      hard to find the `missing link' [suppressed evidence] that was
      successful in helping Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru
      Yasui involving their coram nobus filings before the courts.
      That `missing link' was not only essential … but also for our
      redress legislation."

      –Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, former Congressman who
      fought for redress
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