Proof of Loyalty
Distributed by Stourwater Pictures, 11431 Miller Road NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110; 206-617-1354
Directed by Lucy Ostrander and Don Sellers
DVD, color and b&w, 55 min.
High School - General Adult
Asian Americans, World War II
Reviewed by Michael Schau, Seminole State College, Sanford, FL
Date Entered: 9/6/2017
This is the inspirational story of a World War II hero Kazuo Yamane who help prove beyond doubt that the Japanese-American (Nisei) were trusted and loyal citizens. Two college professors provide the commentary and a veteran of the 440th battalion adds a first person narrative to the combat sections. The narratives and music are combined well with archival pictures and videos.
The Nisei in Hawaii came from an environment of cultural separation and stratification. The children attended separate schools and spoke a Pidgin English. After Pearl Harbor, they were regarded with deep suspicion although they were strongly patriotic. Very few were interned, unlike on the mainland. The 100th Battalion (interpreters) and 440th Battalion (combat) were formed from the Hawaiian Nisei. The 440th saw heavy combat, suffered a high percentage of casualties and earned Presidential Unit Commendations for bravery. Kazua Yamane trained as a translator in the 100th Infantry due to the military knowledge he acquired from studying in prewar Japan. Because of his unique background he was able to translate captured documents no one else thought useful that laid bare Japans lack of war material, and more important, what cities were making armaments. This led directly to concentrated bombings of those Japanese cities which helped shorten the war in the Pacific.
The Nisei combat units and translators proved the loyalty of Japanese-Americans beyond question. Had any of them broken the faith, they all would have been indicted. But they did not. The returning veterans helped democratize Hawaii and were the pioneers for eventual statehood. This is a strong story of diversity but also a story of immigrant success in the face of discrimination. This film will work well in high school and college classrooms as well as for those interested in World War II history.
- Audience Choice Award-Documentary, American International Film Festival, 2017