A new documentary by Momo Yashima, “A Divided Community: 3 Personal Stories of Resistance,” which highlights the struggles of Japanese American World War II resisters, will be screened on Saturday, July 21, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First St. in Little Tokyo, with a panel discussion to follow.
This documentary, presented in collaboration with the George and Sakaye Aratani Endowed Chair, Asian American Studies Center, UCLA, and JANM, tells the stories of Yosh Kuromiya, the late Frank Emi, and the late Mits Koshiyama, who challenged the U.S. government’s decision to draft Japanese Americans while they and their families were being held in America’s concentration camps.
Koshiyama was born in Mountain View, Kuromiya in Sierra Madre, and Emi in Los Angeles. All three were incarcerated in the government-run Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming beginning in 1942, all refused induction into the military on the grounds that the incarceration violated their constitutional rights as American citizens, and all were sent to prison.
The trio was part of a larger group called the Fair Play Committee. Some of the resisters had their convictions overturned or were pardoned by President Harry Truman after the war.
Yashima, a veteran actress who has appeared in movies and television and on stage, is the daughter of Taro Yashima, a Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books. Her mother Mitsu, also an artist, was active in the anti-war movement, which influenced Momo and led to her desire to create a documentary on the three subjects of her film. She is also the sister of the late actor Mako, founder of East West Players, who appears in the film. Both siblings were in the 1976 made-for-TV movie “Farewell to Manzanar.”
A panel discussion with Professor Emeritus Art Hansen, attorney Deborah Lim (who authored a 1990 report for the Japanese American Citizens League on its wartime activities with regard to the resisters), Kuromiya and Yashima will follow the screening. A representative from the JACL has been invited to participate as well.
“A Divided Community” won an award for “best concept” at the 2012 Sunset Film Festival.
For more information on the museum, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.