Photo by Gina Ferazzi
Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga is an iconic figure among students, scholars and Nikkei (Japanese American) activists. Along with 110,000 other Nikkei on the West Coast, Aiko spent World War II in three concentration camps: Manzanar in California, Jerome and Rohwer in Arkansas. She resettled in New York City where she became involved with Asian Americans for Action. Later, she moved to Virginia near the National Archives in Washington, D.C. In 1981 she was hired as the primary researcher for the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC).
Aiko and her husband, Jack Herzig, played a pivotal role in the redress movement through their research at the National Archives. The documents they found were also instrumental in the coram nobis cases that vacated the wartime convictions of Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi. They conducted primary research of official documents for the National Council for Japanese American Redress in the class action lawsuit, William Hohri et.al., vs U.S.A. Aiko also worked for the Department of Justice’s Office of Redress Administration to help identify individuals in the Nikkei community eligible for the presidential apology and redress payment.