Guilty by Reason of Race (film)


Title Guilty by Reason of Race
Date 1972
Director Fred Flamenhaft
Producer Robert Northshield
Starring Miyuki Hirano (Interviewee); Tom Clark (Interviewee); Daniel Inouye (Interviewee); Leon Happell (Interviewee); Lloyd Cosgrove (Interviewee); Ikey Kakimoto (Interviewee); Lt. Col. Edwin Boney (Interviewee); Dr. William Asano: (Interviewee); Fumiko Hayashida (Interviewee); Amy Uno Ishii (Interviewee); J. H. Takeda (Interviewee); Betty Kozasa (Interviewee); Ernest Uno (Interviewee); Edison Uno (Interviewee); Masao Amachi (Interviewee); Craig Shimabukuro (Interviewee); Warren Furutani (Interviewee); Sandy Maeshiro (Interviewee)
Cinematography Henry Kokojan
Editing George Johnson; Jean Venable
Studio National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
Runtime 52 minutes
IMDB Guilty by Reason of Race

Documentary film produced by NBC and shown nationally on September 19, 1972, as part of the NBC Reports series. It was the second major network documentary on the wartime removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans after The Nisei: The Pride and the Shame, which aired on CBS in 1965.

Guilty by Reason of Race was produced and reported by veteran producer Robert Northshield and incorporated historic footage and photographs with contemporary interviews with Japanese Americans as well as those who advocated for incarceration at the time to tell the story of Japanese American removal from the West Coast and their subsequent confinement in concentration camps. Several former inmates are filmed visiting the places where they had been incarcerated, including Amy Uno Ishii, J. H. Takeda, and Betty Kozasa visiting Santa Anita and activist Edison Uno (who was an adviser to the film's producers) at Amache. It is also notable for including an interview in Tokyo with renunciant Masao Amachi, who recalled that he had "lost confidence" in the U.S. and felt that no matter who won the war, that he "would always be looked at as a Jap." The documentary also includes footage from a Manzanar Pilgrimage and from the contemporaneous exhibitions, Executive Order 9066 and Months of Waiting, 1942–1945. The documentary ends with interviews noting the impact of incarceration and raising the question of whether it can happen again; it concludes that "there is no reason why it couldn't."

Interviews in order of appearance

Interviewee Description
Miyuki Hirano former inmate; girl with luggage tag in iconic Dorothea Lange photograph
Tom C. Clark wartime Justice Department official and liaison to the Western Defense Command who was an advocate of incarceration; later became a Supreme Court justice who came to regret his wartime actions
Daniel Inouye U.S. Senator, interviewed at the Arizona Memorial
Leon Happell California commander of the American Legion in 1942
Lloyd Cosgrove grand president of the Native Sons of the Golden West in 1942
Ikey Kakimoto former inmate
Lt. Col. Edwin Boney, U.S. Army (Ret.) soldier who took part in the forced removal
Dr. William Asano former inmate
Fumiko Hayashida former inmate and young mother carrying baby in another iconic photo of the mass removal
Amy Uno Ishii former inmate visiting Santa Anita
J. H. Takeda former inmate visiting Santa Anita
Betty Kozasa former inmate visiting Santa Anita; shown sharing her experiences there with son Will Kozasa and another unnamed young man
Ernest Uno former inmate and Nisei soldier
Edison Uno walking through the "Executive Order 9066" exhibition with family members
Masao Amachi renunciant interviewed in Tokyo
Craig Shimabukuro Sansei interviewed at Manzanar pilgrimage
Warren Furutani Yonsei interviewed at Manzanar pilgrimage
Sandy Maeshiro Sansei interviewed at Manzanar pilgrimage

According to the Rafu Shimpo, the show's airing inspired both praise and protest. "Interesting to note is that chasm between the written and phoned responses to the NBC documentary," wrote English section editor Ellen Endo. "Apparently motivated by emotion, most those who chose to chastise the program called in their criticism—largely anonymously. On the other hand, those who complimented the program chose to take the time to write down—and sign—their comments."[1]

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

Footnotes

  1. Ellen Endo, "Open End-O: Who Is Lloyd Cosgrove," Rafu Shimpo, Sept, 23, 1972, 1.