View the Book Trailer HERE!
U.S. Japan Council (USJC) Conference Panel
Why is the Japanese American Incarceration Story Important to the Japanese?
Shirley helped organize a group of noteworthy stakeholders for a panel discussion at the USJC Conference about why the Japanese American incarceration holds lessons that are important for Japanese people.
From a Heart Mountain incarceree, to the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Japan and a Japan-based news organization journalist, the panel provided a wide range of viewpoints with attendees.
The well-attended session educated on the incarceration, provided perspective from Japanese people on the importance, and was expertly moderated by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's Museum Specialist.
Attendees posed excellent questions, and Shirley and Sam Mihara's (former incarceree) books were the focal points following the session.
We extend our deepest gratitude to the U.S. Japan Council conference organizers for including the panel in their extensive program.
We look forward to seeing you next year!
Japanese American Legacy Lawyers-AALDEF
Shirley was honored to be one of four award recipients to receive this year's Asian American American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) award. Hosted by Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Koichi Ai of the Japanese Embassy, the JACL DC Chapter, Embassy of Japan, and the AALDEF co-sponsored the event. Shirley is grateful to be recognized among these giants in her field and will continue to fight for the rights of Asian Americans and all Americans in her work.
The Japanese American Legacy Lawyers is a program that pays homage to past and present attorneys of Japanese heritage who have contributed to bettering the lives of Japanese Americans and all Americans.
and AALDEF Co-President Phil Nash
2023 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage
In July, Shirley made her annual trek to Heart Mountain for the once-a-year Pilgrimage. The event drew nearly 300 attendees this year from across the country who came to learn more about the history of incarceration of Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain and connect with former incarcerees and their descendants.
Shirley was featured in the Authors of Incarceration Panel with Frank Abe, Doug Nelson, and Eric Muller to discuss her book Setsuko’s Secret. The Pilgrimage also drew noteworthy community members including former Senator Alan Simpson whose friendship with Norman Mineta helped inspire the Mineta-Simpson Institute dedicated to fostering empathy and cooperation between leaders.
Shirley’s goal of building a memorial on the site of the incarceration camp, which was inspired by her mother’s wishes, continues to florish.
The Bar Association of D.C. visits Heart Mountain
The BADC Cohort
A group of almost 30 judges, lawyers, and legal professionals traveled to Heart Mountain to attend sessions on the legal and historical events that led to the mass incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese Americans.
DC Superior Court Chief Judge Josey-Herring went on the BADC trip, along with several associate judges. Here the group is pictured standing in front of Heart Mountain.
Meeting a Wyoming Legend
Wally Johnson, a fomer Assistant AG in the Nixon administration, hosted the BADC cohort at his ranch in the beautiful South fork. There, guests were suprised with a visit from from former Wyoming senator, the Hon. Al Simpson. Pictured from left to right are DCSC Chief Judge Josey-Herring, past DC Bar president Ellen Jakovic (Kirkland & Ellis), and Sen. Simpson, who still serves as an honorary advisor to Heart Mountain.
From Barbed Wire to Disney
Former Disney animator Willie Ito was held at the Topaz confinement site as a young boy. He spoke to the BADC cohort about his life and artistic journey, and concluded his presentation with a "live drawing" for DC Judge Kelly Higashi. Higashi was recently featured in Washington Lawyer (a publication of the DC Bar) in a piece about her family's own incarceration experience.
Meeting the Housel Family
On the final night of the BADC's trip to Heart Mountain, former judge John Housel invited the BADC to dinner at his come in Cody. There, he told the story of his father, whose portrait he is holding in the above photo. In the 1940s, John's father Jerry worked as a project attorney at the Heart Mountain camp. Eric Muller writes about Jerry Housel's experience in his new book, Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe.
AAPI History Month at Hogan Lovells
Thank you to Hogan Lovells for hosting Shirley along with other AAPI authors and advocates for a panel about complicity and conscience in America's WWII concentration camps. The event featured a presentation by UNC Law professor Eric Muller, who recently published Lawyer, Jailer, Ally, Foe about lawyers who worked for the WRA during WWII. Pictured from left to right are Vincent Eng, Rhea Fernandes, Eric Muller, Shirley Ann Higuchi, Shannon Zheng, and Warren Maruyama.
National Consortium on Racial & Ethnic Fairness in the Courts
Authors of the Incarceration Panel
Shirley Ann Higuchi opened the panel, which featured her and fellow authors Daniel James Brown (Facing the Mountain) and Frank Abe (We Hereby Refuse). Heart Mountain Executive Director and NCREFC Board member Aura Newlin served as moderator.
The Panel with Judge Galván
From left to right: Daniel James Brown, Shirley Ann Higuchi, Judge Veronica Galván, Aura Newlin, Frank Abe.
The 25th Annual Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk
Alongside Mr. Wade Henderson, former President and CEO of the LCCHR, Shirley spoke about the need to teach accurate history and promote civil rights. The Japanese Embassy, JAVA, NJAMF, and JACL also took part in the event.
Setsuko's Secret is Now Available in Japanese!
The Japanese edition of Setsuko's Secret
Special thank you to Nakahiro Iwata, Noriko Sanefuji, Masako Miki and JANM for their hard work on the translation.
Dr. Bill Higuchi holding the new book
Much gratitude to Drs. Miyajima and Sugibayashi, as well as all of the former graduate students of Dr. Higuchi who helped to make this dream a reality.
Where to buy the Japanese edition
It is currently available for purchase on Amazon. Stay tuned for more news about other retail outlets!
Virginia Holocaust Museum
On March 16th, 55 teachers traveled to the Virginia Holocaust Museum to take part in a teacher workshop hosted by Heart Mountain. There, Shirley spoke on the history of Japanese American incarceration with Ray Locker and former incarceree Sam Mihara--who, at 90 years old, is still traveling across the country to speak on the subject! This photo of all the participants was taken inside the museum's synagogue, which is a replica of the choral synagogue in Kovno, Lithuania.
Cosmos Club - American History Study Group
On November 15th, Shirley discussed Setsuko's Secret with the Cosmos Club American History Study Group. The conversation started with her family history and incarceration, and ended with larger questions about American education today and the work of the Mineta-Simpson Institute. Shirley is pictured here with some of the attendees, including USJC-DC's Janet Nuzum and Minister Koichi Ai of the Japanese Embassy. Thank you to all who came out!
Ann Arbor Book Tour (Sep 22-23, 2022)
Stop #1: the University of Michigan
Shirley's first stop was to the University of Michigan, where she visited a psychology class taught by Dr. Donna Nagata. Her course, titled “Mental Health and Culture,” grapples with multigenerational trauma, a major theme of Setsuko’s Secret. Shirley spoke with students about how that trauma affected her family’s life post-Heart Mountain. She also discussed the model minority myth and her EDI work at APA. As she is a Michigan grad herself, Shirley was excited to return to campus and have these important conversations with current students.
Stop #2: Ann Arbor District Library
Downtown Library Author Event
The event proved to be very popular; the waiting list for the library’s copy of Setsuko’s Secret is now 20 people long!
Stop #3: Huron High School
On the final day of her tour, Shirley returned to her alma mater Huron High School. There, she met with Principal Che Carter (right) and the great team of social studies and IB leaders for Huron and all Ann Arbor schools to promote the teaching of Asian American history. Shirley recalled how grateful she was for the teachers who believed in her, and felt so inspired by the current leadership of HHS. You can read more about her visit in this article by AAPS District News.
Setsuko's Secret comes to Ann Arbor!
On September 22nd, Ann Arbor District Library will be hosting a Setsuko's Secret book talk, which will be followed by a live Q&A and book signing. The event will be recorded for those unable to attend. For more information, please visit the library's website.
Read Shirley's interview with Pulp, the library's culture blog, here.
2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage
This summer, Shirley returned to Heart Mountain for the historic site's annual Pilgrimage, an event which draws hundreds of attendees from around the United States. While there, Shirley was featured in the "Authors of Incarceration" panel alongside fellow writers Susan Kamei, Frank Abe, and Alden Hayashi.
This Pilgrimage also saw the groundbreaking of the Mineta-Simpson Institute, an expansion of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center. Inspired by the friendship between Senator Alan Simpson and the late Secretary Norm Mineta, the Mineta-Simpson institute will be dedicated to the fostering of empathy and cooperation between leaders.
National Day of Remembrance:
80 Years of Reckoning
To mark the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, Shirley participated in the National Day of Remembrance with the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the Japanese American National Museum (JANM), the Japanese American Citizens League National, the Friends of Minidoka and the National Park Service. She participated on the panel titled "Racial Reckoning and Japanese American Museums" with Smithsonian Undersecretary Kevin Gover, Dr. Franklin Odo, Ann Burroughs, JANM, Hanako Wakatsuki, Honouliuli National Historic Site, and Karen Ishizuka, JANM. At the end of the panel, Ann Burroughs,chair of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium, and Shirley presented Secretary Bunch with a commendation from JACSC for his Racial Reckoning Initiative.
Secretary Bunch emphasizes the need to face our past to guide the future.
Shirley reads the JACSC Commendation for Secretary Bunch and his Racial Reckoning Initiative.
National Day of Remembrance Opening Ceremony
Utah's first ever Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration May 22, 2021
On Saturday, May 22, Utah celebrated AA & PI Heritage Month at the Coty And County Bldg. Mayor Mendenhall, City Councilman Darin Mano, State Legislators Jani Iwamoto and Karen Kwan, author Shirley Higuchi, Mike Mower the Sr Advisor to the Governor and other addressed the crowd. Several performances from various Asian cultures were enjoyed by all. Thank you to Janice Ly, Floyd Mori and Stephanie Sato Sueoka for the invitation and for organizing this amazing event.
Red Lodge Book Club at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center
Thank you, Red Lodge Book Club!
"We really enjoyed our book club discussion with [Shirley and Julie] today. We learned far more than just facts about the Japanese-American internment during WWII. Shirley and Julie opened up their personal stories to us and that meant a lot! Thank you!"
Cathy Ritter, Red Lodge Book Club, MT
The Red Lodge Book Club read Setsuko's Secret, then came out and toured the museum and the site. The day was capped off with a Zoom session with Shirley!
Setsuko's Secret with the National World War II Museum will air on C-SPAN Saturday, March 27 4:55pm Eastern Time.
The program will be available at this link after it's televised.
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Praise for Setsuko's Secret
“An encyclopedic narrative on the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and its haunting sway still on the conscience of the nation. Interwoven throughout is a moving personal family history of pain, loss, and resilience. This is an essential American story.”
—George Takei, Actor
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“As a former incarceree of Heart Mountain, reading this was tremendously gratifying. In this deeply researched and compellingly written history, Higuchi captures the tragedy and triumph of the Japanese American experience and incarceration.”
—Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Transportation
“Only Shirley Ann Higuchi could tell so powerfully a story so needed to be told. This is the culmination of her vision and mission—to honestly share the deep passion of a proud family heritage forged in the saddest of times.”
—Alan Simpson, U.S. Senator, Wyoming, ret.
“Poignant. How the power of an untold secret can affect how one lives and, with its revelation, can spark others to tell their own. With a good story, we can change ourselves, our country, our world for the better. Setsuko’s Secret is one of the good stories.”
—Tamlyn Tomita, Actress
Higuchi captures the essence of the Nisei generation's reluctance to discuss the trauma and tragedy that shaped their lives and those of their children. This is the book I wish I had written about my own family's experience with the wrongful incarceration of the Japanese American community during WWII."
—Lance Ito, former L.A. County Superior Court Judge
“A rich and original story. Shirley Higuchi captures the sweeping narrative of incarceration through the lens of a single camp and ties it to our present reality. Her resolve as a daughter of the camps is Setsuko's real legacy.”
—Frank Abe, director of Conscience and the Constitution
"What my 20-year-old self could have used at that time is Shirley Ann Higuchi’s recently published book, Setsuko’s Secret: Heart Mountain and the Legacy of the Japanese American Incarceration. Exhaustively researched while remaining personal and frank, Setsuko’s Secret is both an informative summary of Japanese American history and an autobiography. One rough comparison is if you had merged Michi Nishiura Weglyn’s groundbreaking Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps with Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s landmark Farewell to Manzanar, two pillars of Japanese American history from the 1970s." ---Chris Komai, Discover Nikkei
Read the full review here.
"There are stories we choose to pass on to our children, and there are stories we can only share with our peers—whether because we doubt our children’s capacity for empathy, or fear it. What is a family secret, but a space where a family may gather? Sometimes, when we say, “You don’t know what it was like,” it is only wishful thinking."--- Vince Schleitwiler, The International Examiner
Read the full review here.
“Setsuko’s Secret is an intense, personal chronicle of the unconscionable internment of Japanese Americans during World War II…
Setsuko Higuchi may have kept her internment memories private, but her unique spirit inspired the founding of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and this extraordinary testament to a sorrowful episode in American history.”
Read the full review here.
View the Josai International University video here.
Missed Out? See Past Events Here!
Click on the image
May 27, 2021
Host: US Japan Council
June 12, 2021
Host: SLC JACL
August 31, 2021
Host: Tadaima! Japanese American Memorial Pilgrimages