January 30th is Fred Korematsu Day. In 1942, at the age of 23, Fred Korematsu refused to go to the government’s detention camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of disobeying the government’s order, he challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066. The case, Korematsu v. United States made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to security reasons.
In 1983 the case was effectively overturned by a team of lawyers led by Dale Minami after lawyer and UC San Diego professor Peter Irons found evidence that the government had suppressed US intelligence reports which found Japanese-Americans did not pose a security threat.
In 1998 Korematsu was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton. After September 11th 2001 Fred Korematsu joined other Japanese Americans in standing with Muslim Americans at a time of fear and suspicion. More recently, he filed a amicus (friend of the court) brief in a Supreme Court case challenging the incarceration of mostly Afghan prisoners without due process in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Fred Korematsu died at the age of 86 in 2005. He left a legacy of standing up for civil rights, whether for himself or others.
If you are in San Francisco, you can attend the 6th Annual Fred Korematsu Day Celebration at the Herbst Theater. If you can’t make it out of Petaluma, we will be serving two fine Japanese-American pies today, Matcha Green Tea Cream pie and a special preview of our Japanese Curry Hand Pie.