LOS ANGELES – The memory of Fred Korematsu, a civil liberties campaigner who fought against the U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, has come into focus amid the fallout from President Donald Trump’s immigration order.
Korematsu, a second-generation Japanese-American who was born in 1919 in Oakland, California, fought a legal battle against the 1942 executive order signed by President Franklin Roosevelt that began the forced relocation and detention of Americans of Japanese descent.
He filed a suit against the federal government after being arrested for refusing to comply with the internment order but lost his legal fight in 1944.
His conviction was vacated in 1983 after another trial when a San Francisco court recognized the internment program discriminated against Japanese-Americans on the basis of race.
California designates Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day. Google Inc., headquartered in the state, honored him Monday by using his image in a “Google doodle,” an artistic variation of the company’s logo. Monday would have been Korematsu’s 98th birthday.
Elsewhere, British news outlet The Independent used a Korematsu quote in reference to the controversial ban on the entry of people from seven Muslim-majority nations: “If you have the feeling that something is wrong, don’t be afraid to speak up.”
Other media, both in Japan and abroad, also reported about Korematsu amid growing worries worldwide about Trump’s executive order, which prohibits entry of people from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya for 90 days, and that of refugees from any country for 120 days.
The order reportedly covers a total of around 134 million people.
Korematsu, who died in 2005, contributed to the enactment of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which offered an apology and compensation to internment victims.