Senator Mazie K. Hirono was elected to the United States Senate in 2012 and sworn in as Hawaii’s first female senator and the country’s first Asian American woman senator. She serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary, Energy and Natural Resources, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Veterans’s Affairs committees. She is also the ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks.
In 2015, Hirono introduced a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino veterans of World War II; it was enacted in 2016. Last year, Hirono and her fellow Senator Tammy Duckworth introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act of 2017. It is intended to ensure that no individual is imprisoned or detained based on a legally protected characteristic such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga was a high school senior when she and her family were incarcerated in the concentration camp for Japanese Americans at Manzanar during World War II. After the war, while living in Washington, DC, Herzig Yoshinaga retrieved and cataloged thousands of National Archives records on the wartime exclusion and incarceration. In 1980, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) was created, which would be the foundation for legislative redress. The following year, Herzig Yoshinaga was hired by the CWRIC and became its lead researcher.
It was Herzig Yoshinaga who discovered the tenth and only still-existing copy of the original printing of the 1942 Final Report on Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, which provided proof that the army had seen no military necessity to deprive 120,000 individuals of their rights. The Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed by President Ronald Reagan, finally brought redress and a formal apology from the government to survivors of the incarceration.
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