A Tradition of Honor (film)


Title A Tradition of Honor
Date 2002
Director Craig Yahata
Producer David Yoneshige; Craig Yahata
Writer David Yoneshige
Narrator Sab Shimono
Starring Ron Oba (interviewee); Daniel Inouye (interviewee); Hiromi Suehiro (interviewee); Ray Nosaka (interviewee); Norman Ikari (interviewee); Hank Yoshitake (interviewee); Ken Akune (interviewee); Harry Akune (interviewee); Esther Oda (interviewee); Kiyoshi Fujimoto (interviewee); Fred Murakami (interviewee); Aiko Nakahara (interviewee); Joseph Ichiuji (interviewee); George Morihiro (interviewee); Young Oak Kim (interviewee); Sakae Takahashi (interviewee); Seitoku Akamine (interviewee); Christopher Keegan (interviewee); Don Seki (interviewee); Howard Furumoto (interviewee); Frank Shimada (interviewee); Ted Ohira (interviewee); George Oiye (interviewee); Takejiro Higa (interviewee); Peter Nakahara (interviewee); Warren Tsuneishi (interviewee); Rusty Kimura (interviewee); Grant Hirabayashi (interviewee); Roy Matsumoto (interviewee); Harry Fukuhara (interviewee); Victor Abe (interviewee); Motoyoshi Tanaka (interviewee); Shuji Taketomo (interviewee); Tak Senzaki (interviewee); Ichigi Kashiwagi (interviewee); Sus Ito (interviewee); Jim Yamashita (interviewee); Ed Ichiyama (interviewee); Larry Kodama (interviewee); Barney Hajiro (interviewee); Millard Black (interviewee); Kiyo Takabayashi (interviewee); Tadashi Tojo (interviewee); Manabi Hirasaki (interviewee); Tom Sakamoto (interviewee)
Music David Snyder
Cinematography Jason Inouye
Editing Craig Yahata
Runtime 81 minutes
IMDB A Tradition of Honor

Feature length documentary telling the stories of Japanese American soldiers in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service, produced in 2002 by the Go For Broke National Education Foundation.

A Tradition of Honor uses conventional documentary techniques to tell the story in chronological fashion. The core of the film is made up of dozens of interviews with Nisei veterans from the archives of the Go For Broke National Education Center's Hanashi Oral History Program. These interview clips are augmented by archival footage and stills from governmental and personal sources, narration by actor Sab Shimono, and original music by David Snyder. All but a few of the interviews are with Nisei veterans, the exceptions being one white officer of the 442nd, one of the soldiers from the "Lost Battalion," Korean American 100th Battalion officer Young Oak Kim, and two wives of Nisei veterans.

The story begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the recollections of veterans on O'ahu with firsthand memories of the attack. The aftermath of the attack leads to Executive Order 9066 and mass roundup of Japanese Americans on the West Coast and their incarceration first in so-called "assembly centers" and then the concentration camps run by the War Relocation Authority. After recollections of life in the camps and administration of the "loyalty questionnaire" in early 1943, the film turns to the story of the 100th Battalion. After briefly noting their formation and training, the segment focuses on their first engagement with the enemy in the battle of Monte Cassino, with key figures Young Oak Kim and Sakae Takahashi telling much of the story.

We next return to the concentration camps, where veterans talk about why they volunteered for the 442nd despite their imprisonment. The tepid response from the camps is contrasted with the adamant response in Hawai'i, where there was no mass incarceration. A segment on the 442nd's basic training focuses on discord and misunderstanding between the Nisei from Hawai'i and from the continental U.S. However, a trip to visit the nearby camps at Rohwer and Jerome, Arkansas, by the Hawai'i men succeeded in ending any animosity.

The film next turns to the MIS, with the focus turning to two stories. The first is that of the Nisei in Merrill's Marauders in Burma and Roy Matsumoto, who discovers plans for a Japanese attack and impersonates a Japanese officer to lure Japanese troops into an ambush, as told by Matsumoto, Grant Hirabayashi, and Howard Furumoto. The role of MIS soldiers as interrogators highlights the story of Takejiro Higa, a Kibei who grew up largely in Okinawa, and who ends up interrogating two of his former Okinawan classmates who are captured as POWs.

The story then turns to the 442nd upon their arrival in Europe in the summer of 1944, where they join the 100th. The film focuses on the stories of the battle at Belvedere (told by Young Oak Kim, Sakae Takahashi, Motoyoshi Tanaka, and Norman Ikari), the literation of Bruyeres and rescue of the "Lost Battalion" (told by Tak Senzaki, Shuji Taketomo, Ichigi Kashiwagi, Sus Ito, Jim Yamashita, Kiyoshi Fujimoto, Ed Ichiyama, Larry Kodama, Barney Hajiro, and Millard Black), the breaking of the Gothic Line (told by George Morihiro, Hank Yoshitake, and Kiyo Takabayashi), and the discovery of German death camps by members of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (told by Tadashi Tojo, Ed Ichiyama, Joseph Ichiuji, Manabi Hirasaki, and George Oiye).

The final segments cover the end of the war and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Tom Sakamoto recalls being present for both the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri and being among the first to visit Hiroshima after the bombing. A brief aftermath segment tells of soldiers reuniting with family members and with honors received years later, with a focus on the dedication of the Go For Broke monument in Los Angeles in 1999 and the Medal of Honor ceremony in 2000 in which twenty additional Medals of Honor were awarded to members of the 100th and 442nd by President Bill Clinton.

A Tradition of Honor was directed by Craig Yahata and produced by Yahata and David Yoneshige. It was funded in part by a grant from the State of California, California Arts Council.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

A Tradition of Honor on the Go For Broke National Education Center website: http://www.goforbroke.org/support/store/products/tradition_of_honor_dvd.php.