1942 May 30

Fred Korematsu Arrested – Test of Japanese-American Evacuation Ahead

 

Fred Korematsu refused to report for evacuation, pursuant to military orders under the government’s plan to evacuate Japanese-Americans from the West Coast, and was arrested on this day. Authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, the evacuation and internment of the Japanese Americans in World War II is widely regarded as one of greatest civil liberties tragedies in American history.

Korematsu’s challenge to his arrest and conviction became the second major test of the government’s policy on the Japanese-Americans in World War II. The first was Gordon Hirabayashi’s challenge to the curfew in Seattle, which the Supreme Court upheld upheld on June 21, 1943. The Court upheld Fred Korematsu’s his arrest and the government’s program, in Korematsu v. United States, on December 18, 1944.

On the same day (December 18, 1944), the Court ruled in Ex parte Endo that the government could not detain people it conceded were loyal to the U.S., and ordered the Japanese-Americans in the Relocation Centers to be released. Aware of the imminent Endo decision, the government cancelled the evacuation and internment program the day before (December 17, 1944).

In 1998 President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fred Korematsu.

Watch an interview with Fred Korematsu: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygkboaLM3do

Read about the evacuation and internment: Peter Irons, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Cases (1983)

Learn more at the Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education: http://korematsuinstitute.org/institute/aboutfred/

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