Korematsu, Fred Toyosaburo

Korematsu, Fred Toyosaburo,

1919–2005, Japanese-American internment protester, b. Oakland, Calif. He was a shipyard welder when, after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1942, President F. D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which specified that West Coast residents of Japanese descent be treated as enemy aliens and interned at government camps. Korematsu refused to comply with the order and was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted. Interned at a camp in Topaz, Utah, and represented by the American Civil Liberties UnionAmerican Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), nonpartisan organization devoted to the preservation and extension of the basic rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Founded (1920) by such prominent figures as Jane Addams, Helen Keller, Judah Magnus, and Norman Thomas, the ACLU grew
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, he fought the internment policy to the Supreme Court, which upheld (1944) the government's wartime right to intern its citizens. After the war he returned to the San Francisco Bay area. In 1982 was approached by legal historian Peter Irons, who had discovered documents supporting Korematsu's case that had been suppressed by government attorneys. Korematsu agreed to refight the case, and in 1983 his original conviction was overturned. Korematsu subsequently became for many a symbol of principled resistance to government-imposed injustice.


See P. Irons, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese American Internment Cases (1983, repr. 1993).

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