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The Color of Honor: The Japanese American Soldier in WWII (film)

A 1987 documentary film by Loni Ding that largely focuses on Japanese Americans who served in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during World War II. A sequel to Ding's 1983 film Nisei Soldier: Standard Bearer for an Exiled People , the two films were among the first and most influential films on the Nisei soldiers and both were critically acclaimed and widely viewed.

After completing the 30 minutes long Nisei Soldier , which mostly focused on Nisei in the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team , Ding realized that there was a much larger story to tell. Buoyed by positive reaction to the film both within and outside the ethnic community, she continued her work on the general topic, going to a 1984 reunion of the 442nd in Bruyeres, France, and interviewing nearly eighty people in Hawai'i, Japan, and various parts of the continental United States. Color of Honor starts out telling a general story of the dilemmas Nisei faced after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Locked up in concentration camps, the government began to recruit Nisei to serve in the armed forces, first to serve as Japanese language translators and interpreters, and later to be combat troops. Ding traces the formation of the Military Intelligence Service Language School and the 442nd, contrasting the reaction to Nisei in the concentration camps and in Hawai'i, where there was no mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. She also includes the voices of dissidents, both Nisei draft resisters and military resisters , Nisei who protested discriminatory treatment within the army. The bulk of the film's running time is devoted to the Nisei in the MIS and the unique contributions they made—as well as the unique perils they faced—in the Pacific War and in occupation Japan. The film ends with a brief summary of postwar gains made by Japanese Americans and allusions to the then current Redress Movement and coram nobis cases .

Ding completed the film in 1987 and showed a version of it in Congress that year as part of the debate around H.R. 442, legislation that would become the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 . Color of Honor officially premiered on October 2, 1987, in Washington, DC, as part of the opening festivities for the landmark exhibition A More Perfect Union: Japanese Americans & the U.S. Constitution at the National Museum of American History. After a various screenings at film festivals and other events, a re-edited version of the film—cut to 90 minutes from its original 101 minute length and also including the 1988 passage of redress legislation—received a national screening on Public Broadcasting Service stations on January 11, 1989. Among other awards, it received a CINE Golden Eagle award; Ding was also recognized by the Hawai'i State House of Representatives on March 29, 1988 for her "outstanding creative work in the service of the ideals of racial and ethnic equality, multicultural understanding, and genuine Americanism."

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

Might also like Nisei Soldier: Standard Bearer for an Exiled People (1983); 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity (2010); MIS: Human Secret Weapon (2012)

Media Details
Release Date 1987
Runtime 101 minutes
Director Loni Ding
Producer Loni Ding
Writer Loni Ding
Narrator Joseph Miksak
Starring Harry Fukuhara (interviewee), Yukio Kawamoto (interviewee), <a href="/wiki/John_Aiso" title="John Aiso">John Aiso</a> (interviewee), Barry Saiki (interviewee), <a href="/wiki/Frank_Emi" title="Frank Emi">Frank Emi</a> (interviewee), William Kochiyama (interviewee), Henry Gosho (interviewee), Masao Kataoka (interviewee), Hakubun Nozawa (interviewee), Rudy Tokiwa (interviewee), Arthur Morimitsu (interviewee), Herbert Miyasaki (interviewee), Edward Mitsukido (interviewee), Kenjiro Akune (interviewee), Manny Goldberg (interviewee), <a href="/wiki/Spark_Matsunaga" title="Spark Matsunaga">Spark Matsunaga</a> (interviewee), Hoichi Kubo (interviewee), Eugene Wright (interviewee), Howard Furumoto (interviewee), Harry Akune (interviewee), Jacob Herzog (interviewee), Minoru Hara (interviewee), Kiyofumi Kojima (interviewee), Tom Sakamoto (interviewee), Ernest Uno (interviewee), Kay Kaneko (interviewee), Monroe Sweetland (interviewee), Tadashi Matsumoto (interviewee), Ben Tamashiro (interviewee), <a href="/wiki/Dale_Minami" title="Dale Minami">Dale Minami</a> (interviewee), <a href="/wiki/Karen_Kai" title="Karen Kai">Karen Kai</a> (interviewee)
Music Andy Newell
Cinematography Tomas Tucker
Editing Loni Ding
Studio Vox Productions
Distributor Center for Asian American Media
For More Information

For More Information

Official website. .

Kanopy Streaming link:

Abrash, Barbara. " Interview with Loni Ding. " April 28, 1991. Documentary Is Never Neutral website

Aufderheide, Pat. "Two Documentaries Probe Why Home Is Where the Heart Breaks." In These Times , Jan. 11–17, 1989, 20.

Hamamoto, Darrell Y. Monitored Peril: Asian Americans and the Politics of TV Representation . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994.

Renow, Michael. "Warring Images: Stereotype and American Representations of the Japanese, 1941–1991." In The Japan/America Film Wars: World War II Propaganda and Its Cultural Contexts . Edited by Markus Nornes and Yukio Fukushima. (Philadelphia: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994): 95–118.

Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times , Feb. 29, 1988.