Hawai’i’s history with Japan is profound and deserves to be demonstrated and illustrated for the mass media to better understand. Proof of Loyalty is a biographical documentary about a Nisei man named Kazuo Yamane, nisei meaning second generation Hawaii born Japanese.
The migrational patterns of Japanese were first analyzed in the film. 1/3 of the migrants to the state of Hawaii by the 1880’s were of Japanese descent. As American colonization took place, issues of white supremacy were obvious in places of power. The English language was valued, as the local, multi-tongue language of Pidgin was seen as a sign of being uneducated. The film explained that the language of Pidgin was created by the keiki and young children who were learning to communicate with each other despite language barriers. Whether you were from Puerto Rico, Samoa, Japan or Hawaii, the keiki invented Pidgin to cooperate with one another.
The film then transitioned to show Kazuo finishing high school in Hawaii and going back to his roots in Japan to study at University. Gaining a multi-cultural experience and truly learning the Japanese language, Kazuo learned many great life lessons, including those about communication. He arrived in Japan at a time when they were at war with several countries, so it was required of him to learn combat skills. First gaining initial military training in Japan gave Kazuo Yamane an edge on the other Nisei men. He had the ability to understand the types of documents that Japanese culture produced, as another Nisei who was only familiar with American type of documentation may not be able to decipher with as much accuracy. He only hoped he would never have to enroll in the Japanese military.
After 5 years and graduating from the “Harvard of Japan” he returned back to Hawaii, where he joined the US military. At the brink of WW2 and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1945, Yamane was sent to the Windward side of Oahu to prepare for additional Japanese invasions, which never ended up happening. Hawaii declared martial law and experienced extreme racial segregation and fear of the enemy known as the ‘japs’. The Japanese culture of the United States became a scapegoat for American blame, and soon Hawaii-born Japanese were feeling signs of prejudice.
Among the Eisenhower Presidency, the 100th Infantry Battalion was born and 1400+ Japanese-American soldiers were taken from their homes and families in Hawaii, unknowingly to serve their fate to accompany America in being valued spies rather than enemies. This battalion would later be the most important group to help contribute to the American success in World War Two, winning the name “Purple Heart Battalion” as well as the Medal of Honor award, the nation’s highest award for combat valor.
Yamane proved his loyalty to the United States after being hired as one of the main four Japanese document translators. After ironically opening a box that said “Unrelated to Military” he found a confidential document that discussed the minutes from a Japanese government military meeting. It discussed the ammunition inventory from the beginning to the current day war efforts. The document enclosed that the Japanese were extremely low on inventory and had half the amount that they had at the beginning of WW2. It also discussed where and how the ammo was hidden and placed all over the country. This was an extremely imperative document to the US military as we used this to create detrimental coordinates of their ammunition stock that allowed us to prevail and successfully drop bombs on our enemies months later. Kazuo knew Japan was in his roots, but he knew America was his home.
This is an incredible film that will update you on your history of the island of O’ahu, racial profiling and the importance of nationalism as we experience a growing divide in our nation 70 years later during Trump’s presidency.