On Wednesday, January 30th, AABANY celebrated Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday and New York City’s 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution. The historic event was presented by the Asian Practice Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), the New York Day of Remembrance Committee, AABANY and numerous community groups. The event was hosted by NYCLA, at 14 Vesey Street, and over 150 individuals braved the freezing cold and attended to honor Fred Korematsu and his legacy.
Fred Korematsu was a Japanese American man who lived during the era of Japanese internment. Under FDR’s Executive Order 9066, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were sent to concentration camps without any hearing or due process. Fred Korematsu challenged the order by refusing to go to the concentration camp he was assigned to; his case made it all the way to the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States. The Court, however, deferred to the Executive Order and ruled in a 6-3 landmark decision that internment was based on “military necessity.” Korematsu’s conviction was eventually overturned in 1984 in a coramnobis proceeding in which the court found that the government deliberately misstated facts or provided misleading information in obtaining the conviction of Fred Korematsu.
At the celebration, AABANY members performed “Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” a reenactment of legal proceedings in Korematsu v. United States. The reenactment was led by Hon. Denny Chin, United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner at Crowell & Moring, who reprised their roles as Narrators 1 and 2. Also part of the cast were many veterans of the reenactment team, including Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto, Vincent Chang, Vinoo Varghese, Francis Chin, Clara Ohr, Andrew Hahn, Yang Chen and David Weinberg.
A panel discussion on “Why the Korematsu Case Still Matters Today” followed the reenactment. The panelists were Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor of Rutgers Law School and Afaf Nasher, Executive Director for the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Issues Committee Chair, moderated the discussion. The panelist remarked on the importance of Korematsu in Asian Pacific American History, connecting his legacy to APA community outreach and condemning the parallels between Korematsu’s case and the current Administration’s stances on immigration, deportation, and detention.
AABANY was proud to be part of this historic celebration of Korematsu Day in New York. We were particularly pleased to be joined by Koji Abe, Deputy Chief of Mission, Jin Hashimoto, Political Consul, Yuki Kaneshige, Public Affairs Specialist from the Consulate General of Japan, and City Councilman Daniel Dromm who introduced the New York City Council resolution that established Jan. 30th as the Fred T. Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in New York City.
The celebration was covered by NHK World Japan and WNYC News. To learn more click on the following links.
YORK, January 25, 2019 – New York City will celebrate its 2nd annual Fred
Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution on Wednesday, January 30,
2019, hosted by the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) at 14 Vesey
Street from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. This event marks Korematsu’s 100th birthday.
The Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution is already
officially recognized in four states and was first officially celebrated in New
York City in 2018. Spearheaded by the Asian Practice Committee of NYCLA, the
Asian American Bar Association of New York joins the New York Day of
Remembrance Committee and numerous community groups to organize this historic
celebration, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) members will perform
“Fred Korematsu and His Fight for Justice,” a reenactment of legal proceedings
in Korematsu v. United States. Judge
Denny Chin, United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and
Kathy Hirata Chin, Partner at Crowell & Moring, will narrate the reenactment.
the Korematsu Case Still Matters Today,” a panel discussion, will follow the
reenactment. The panelists are Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor of Rutgers Law School
and Afaf Nasher, Executive Director for the New York Chapter of the Council on
American Islamic Relations, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Issues
Committee Chair, will be the moderator.
T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he
refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans.
After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he
appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court
ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified by military
1983, in light of new evidence of government misconduct, Korematsu’s
40-year-old case was reopened. On November 10, 1983, Korematsu’s conviction was
overturned in a federal court in San Francisco. It was a pivotal moment in
civil rights history.
remained an activist throughout his life. In 1998, he received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President Bill
is proud to help celebrate Fred Korematsu’s 100th birthday, on the occasion of
the second annual Korematsu Day in New York City,” states Yang Chen, AABANY’s
Executive Director. “AABANY was among the groups in New York that testified
before the New York City Council in 2017 in support of commemorating January
30th each year as the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the
Constitution in New York City. We were there last year for the inaugural
celebration, and we are honored to be able to present one of our trial reenactments
to recount the story of Fred Korematsu and his struggle for justice. The only
way we can ensure that we as Americans never again repeat the gross injustice
Japanese Americans suffered during World War II is to tell his story and share
its many lessons with the general public.”
more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212)
332-2478, or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership
organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific
American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage
the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian
Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York regional affiliate
of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, on the anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark case, Korematsu v. United States (1944), Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act of 2017. The legislation would make it clear that the discriminatory detentions endorsed in Korematsu are prohibited.
“The specter of the Korematsu decision haunts us to this day,” said National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) President Pankit J. Doshi. “With this bill, Congress has the chance to repudiate the Supreme Court’s ruling and prevent the country from repeating a dark chapter of our nation’s history. We thank Senators Duckworth and Hirono, and Representative Takano, for their leadership in trying to overturn this widely condemned decision. As leaders in the legal profession and in recognition of our history as Asian Pacific Americans, NAPABA fully supports the introduction and passage of this legislation.”
“We, as a nation, must never forget or repeat the horrors thousands of Japanese Americans experienced as prisoners within our own borders. We must also continue to do everything we can to ensure such a national travesty never happens again. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Hirono in remembrance of my dear friend and former colleague Mark Takai to reinstate our commitment to protecting civil liberties and strengthen our resolve to ensure we never again repeat such shameful acts,”said Senator Duckworth.
“The internment of Japanese Americans was deeply wrong and set a precedent — that it should never happen again. However, the President and his administration continue to advance divisive policies and rhetoric that demonize the Muslim community and other minority communities. By repudiating this legal precedent that could allow a travesty like the internment to happen again, we are standing up for the civil rights of all communities, a worthy cause that I’m sure our friend Mark Takai would have joined us on,”said Senator Hirono.
“This legislation is an important acknowledgement of the injustice suffered by my grandparents, parents, and more than 115,000 others who were relocated and imprisoned based on nothing more than their heritage,” said Representative Mark Takano. “This stain on our history must serve as a warning of what happens when we allow fear and hate to overwhelm our basic respect for one another. I am proud to introduce this legislation in the House, and I could not think of a more appropriate way to honor the memory of Congressman Mark Takai, who was a good friend, a great public servant, and an even better person.”
The bill, named in honor of Fred Korematsu and Rep. Mark Takai, would amend the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to bar detentions or imprisonment based on protected characteristics, including race or religion. The Non-Detention Act sought to repeal the Emergency Detention Act of 1950, a law that continued the legacy of Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of 120,000 individuals on the basis of their Japanese ancestry under the guise of “military necessity” and national security. The Supreme Court found the orders constitutional following challenges by Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui.
NAPABA worked with the offices of Sens. Duckworth, Hirono, and Rep. Takano, the Korematsu family and coram nobis legal teams, and civil rights groups to draft the bill that honors the legacy of Fred Korematsu, recognizes the history of Japanese American incarceration, and seeks to overturn the impact of the Supreme Court’s holding in Korematsu v. United States.
NAPABA is proud to join leading groups in the Asian Pacific American community — the Korematsu Institute, Stop Repeating History, the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, the Japanese American Citizens League, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC — as original endorsers of the bill.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of almost 50,000 attorneys and over 80 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government.
NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Missouri Asian American Bar Association (MAABA) express their deepest sympathies and sorrow to the community of Ferguson, Missouri and to the family and friends of Michael Brown during this time of tragedy and hardship.
As lawyers who have represented underserved and underprivileged clients in North Saint Louis County, we are familiar with the longstanding and mutual distrust between local law enforcement and communities of color in Ferguson. The lack of diversity in the police force, entrenched institutional biases, and disparate treatment suffered in the community have all played a part in the current crisis.
We acknowledge that criminal acts of certain individuals have required the police to respond; however, attacks on peaceful and law-abiding citizens are unacceptable. The police response to the protests in the wake of Michael Brown’s death has been, by any objective measure, heavy-handed. That is why we continue to urge public officials and law enforcement to redouble their efforts to eliminate bias and to safeguard civil liberties. No one should be deprived of their rights of freedom of speech or to peaceably assemble. Reports of attacks on civilians and citizens who were merely exercising their constitutional rights are not only disappointing, they are frightening. President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and other elected leaders should be commended for standing against the excessive use of deadly force and militarization of the law enforcement response in Ferguson.
Still, specific strategies for reforms to prevent future tragedies and ensure social justice are needed. Questions of bias will likely arise regarding the grand jury proceedings surrounding Michael Brown’s death, and we insist that they be conducted with the utmost respect for the tremendous responsibilities and duties borne by the office of St. Louis County Prosecutor, Bob McCulloch. The process must be unimpeachable, thorough, expedient, and transparent. The results must be fair, honest, and just if our community is to heal and for faith in the justice system to be restored.
We also commend the steps taken by local elected officials to increase transparency, communication, and collaboration between and among law enforcement and the community, and in particular our communities of color. Ferguson Mayor James Knowles has recently promised to bolster minority hiring and participation in governance, to recruit African American police officers, and seek to equip all officers with vehicle dashboard and vest cameras. Likewise, City of St. Louis Mayor Slay and Police Chief Sam Dotson should be commended for promptly and sensitively reaching out to community leaders, including pastors, aldermen, and the NAACP, in the wake of another recent but separate shooting by police officers in North St. Louis. They have promised a complete and transparent investigation, and we will be watching.
Therefore, and in spite of the violence in Ferguson we have seen on too many recent nights, we are encouraged and inspired by the efforts of our brothers and sisters there to come together peaceably to exercise their constitutionally protected rights. We are inspired by those of you who have made real contributions to the recovery, relief, and cleanup efforts in Ferguson. We are affected when we see you continue to stand for your principles and beliefs under withering, and often frightening, situations when others were somehow unwilling or unable. We stand behind you, Ferguson.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American (APA) attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and approximately 70 national, state, and local bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA engages in legislative and policy advocacy, promotes APA political leadership and political appointments, and builds coalitions within the legal profession and the community at large. NAPABA also serves as a resource for government agencies, members of Congress, and public service organizations about APAs in the legal profession, civil rights, and diversity in the courts.