‘Rights of Passage’: Film on Japanese internment justice screens March 9 at Wy’east Middle

Crew Placing the Min Yasui Legacy Stone last spring at the Georgiana Smith Gardens, located next to the Hood River Library. On March 28, the Min Yasui Legacy Garden will be unveiled at noon on the north lawn.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Crew Placing the Min Yasui Legacy Stone last spring at the Georgiana Smith Gardens, located next to the Hood River Library. On March 28, the Min Yasui Legacy Garden will be unveiled at noon on the north lawn.



Nowadays, when bipartisanship on Capitol Hill is a rarity, “Rights of Passage” filmmaker Janice Tanaka tells the story of a bygone era of human connection inside the Beltway — an unprecedented “American” moment in the U.S. Congress that the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University called an achievement “against all odds.”

“Right of Passage” documents the “struggle of the Japanese who were incarcerated during World War II and buried their shame and indignation for 30 years, but then found the courage and strength to seek justice, which then snowballed into a lesson of the power of American democracy,” said historian Maija Yasui. “It is a lesson in bipartisanship that is so critical in current times.”

The film will be screened on Friday, March 9, starting at 7 p.m. at the Wy’east Middle School Performing Arts Center in Odell. A question-and-answer session with Tanaka and producer Nancy Araki will follow the 90-minute film.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, almost 45 years in the making, acknowledged the fundamental injustice of the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II in American internment camps and paid each surviving internee $20,000, along with a government apology. Not many outside the Japanese American community know this story.

The documentary draws upon newly declassified documents, never-before-seen archival films and interviews with players speaking for the first time. Featured are Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford; Senators Daniel Inouye, Spark Matsunaga and Alan Simpson; Congressmen Barney Frank, Norm Mineta and Bob Matsui; Ken Duberstein, former chief of staff to Ronald Reagan; and the men and women from the community who played a significant role.

YASUI GARDEN DEDICATION

Maija Yasui said the March 9 event “is a powerful way to start the month of March preceding Minoru Yasui Day March 28 that tells in more depth the path in finding justice for all.”

On Minoru Yasui Day, March 28, the Minoru Yasui Legacy Garden will be unveiled at noon on the north lawn of Georgiana Smith Gardens, adjacent to the Hood River Library, just off Oak Street. Holly Yasui, Minoru Yasui’s daughter, will be on hand to thank the people of Hood River for their contribution to this legacy to promote social justice for all people.



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