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Unfinished Business - The Japanese-American Internment Cases

3.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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(Dec 26, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the spring of 1942, more than 110,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry were uprooted from their homes and businesses and incarcerated in desolate relocation camps. Without hearings or trials, men, women and children were evacuated under Executive Order 9066--the Wartime Relocation Act. UNFINISHED BUSINESS is the story of three Japanese-American resistors--Gorden Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Minoru Yasui--who courageously defied the government order and refused to go, resulting in their conviction and imprisonment. The film interweaves their personal stories with moving archival footage of wartime anti-Japanese hysteria, the evacuation and incarceration, and life at the camps. It captures the men 40 years later, fighting to overturn their original convictions in the final round of the battle against the act which shattered the lives of two generations of Japanese-Americans. Produced and directed by Academy Award-winner Steven Okazaki (Days of Waiting), UNFINISHED BUSINESS is a gripping study of one of the most tragic--and significant--periods in American history. DVD Features: Bonus Archival Film: Japanese Relocation; Filmmaker Biography; Resources; Interactive Menus; Scene Selection

Steven Okazaki's Oscar-nominated 1984 film Unfinished Business was one of the first documentaries to confront the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II. As such it has an emotional immediacy that still rings clear today. Okazaki traces the story of Executive Order 9066, which decreed in the wake of Pearl Harbor that Japanese-American citizens living on the U.S. west coast should be uprooted and placed in relocation camps. In particular, we hear the histories of three men who separately defied the order and were arrested and jailed, each with his own particular story: Gordon Hirabayashi, Minoru Yasui, and Fred Korematsu. All three calmly describe their experiences, and Okazaki covers Korematsu's suit to have his conviction overturned. Newsreel footage, including footage from the camps, gives proof of the bleak relocation centers, and excerpts from government public-interest films (on relocation and the celebrated Japanese-American units of the U.S. military) give you-are-there looks at the era. These, and the forceful first-person testimonies of people involved, give weight to Korematsu's assertion that "it should never happen again to any American citizen just because he looks a little different from others." --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Amy Hill, Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui
  • Directors: Steven Okazaki
  • Writers: Steven Okazaki, Jane Kaihatsu, Kei Yokomizo, Laura Ide
  • Producers: Steven Okazaki, Jane Kaihatsu
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • DVD Release Date: December 26, 2005
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BB154S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,962 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Unfinished Business - The Japanese-American Internment Cases" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. GUPTA on May 24, 2007
Format: DVD
One of the very few documentaries on this subject of the condition of Japanese-Americans who had been living in America for generations furing WW2. Before I saw this, I was totally unaware of the existence of concentration camps (which were called "relocation camps") with poor living conditions, into which thousands of Japanese Americans were herded. The trauma of war on a country's psyche is quite well documented here and is no different from similar emotions faced by other countries during times of conflict.

Also interesting was the hope and faith of some Japanese Americans in the American justice system to seek redressal of their humiliation - and also, how the justice system, though slow, didn't fail them.
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Format: DVD
Shortly after America entered WWII, FDR signed Executive Order 9066 giving the government the ability to declare areas of the country military zones and arresting any persons in those areas who were deemed a "threat." Although it did not specify any certain people, the Order was used primarily to round up and incarcerate persons of Japanese descent living in the western U.S. The detainees found themselves living in what amounted to concentration camps, often in isolated desert areas. During the war, three Japanese-American men (Gordon Hirabayashi, Monoru Yasui, & Fred Korematsu) filed lawsuits challenging the legality of Executive Order 9066; none were successful. However, after the war, public opinion began to shift and in the 1980s the three men re-opened their earlier lawsuits. "Unfinished Business" documents the stories of these three men and how their lawsuits affected the Japanese-American community.

"Unfinished Business" (1985) is a worthwhile documentary on an important topic - one of the low points in American history. The documentary is definitely a no-frills affair, with minimal narration, text, and recreations, which might bore audiences today used to flashier documentaries. At times, the documentary doesn't include enough detail and is poorly paced. For example, the narrator mentions that many of the men in the camps were later allowed to join the U.S. military, but they provide no details about how this change occurred. Instead, it focuses on brief interviews with some of the Japanese-Americans who were forced into the camps. Their stories are affecting and in no need of adornment. However, the finale concerning the lawsuits is told in an incredibly flat and technical manner with no suspense or elaboration; it almost seems like an afterthought.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I show this documentary to my 8th grade class as part of studying Washington State history its history of internment camps and the Japanese-Americans from our state who were imprisoned during WWI. This documentary opens up great possibilites for disucssing the treatment of Muslim Americans and Hispanic Americans in present times and how entire groups are intimidated and harrased simply for how they look and who they are, out of some sort of misplaced fear. (At least this is what my very compassionate and savvy young people tell me!) Talk about learning ( or not) from history...
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This video was in the traditional style of a documentary, and I have shown it in my classes on law. However, the video put too great an emphasis on the emotional aspects of the unwarranted Internment of Japanese Americans. The greater issue lies in the blatant disregard for the U.S. Constitution raised by these actions. In this respect, it was history that taught us the lesson of what had taken place rather than the Media of the time. Remember, the Mainstream U.S. Media of the era was not even willing to let the public know that their "President" was a weakened degenerate confined to a wheelchair. The real issue, of this video and this incident is that A U.S. PRESIDENT SUSPENDED HABEAS CORPUS, IN WHAT WAS CLEARLY AN ACT OF STATE SANCTIONED RACISM! The issue is even more ironic when one considers that the Nazis were doing the same thing at the time, the primary difference being that they gassed their inmates. U.S. citizens were imprisoned without Due Process. U.S. citizens were imprisoned for years without being charged with any crime, other than being born of Japanese descent. This outrage took place under a Democrat President, who never justified his actions. The Attorney General of California at that time later went on to beoome the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Earl Warren, who would later become a Liberal responsible for supporting all forms of Civil Rights, possibly out of guilt for what he did to the Japanese Americans. It should also be noted that Italian Americans were also subjected to these internments in much smaller numbers. And one final point to consider is that we may now be facing a similar circumstance in the current situation with a Media that protects the President in a manner not seen since FDR. It appears that we have failed to learn the lessons of these horrid acts by our government.
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