President Ronald Reagan signs the redress bill into law on Aug. 10, 1988. The Japanese American members of Congress were among those in attendance. (Ronald Reagan Library)

NEW YORK – With a special address delivered by Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, consul general of Japan in New York, Asia Society will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 on Thursday, June 20, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On Feb. 19, 1942, Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which forced 110,000 Japanese Americans into detention camps surrounded by machine guns. They were the victims of a breakdown of the Constitution driven by hysteria, bigotry and calculation.

The redress bill to provide an apology and monetary compensation to the victims of the camps moved through Congress in 1987 and 1988. Then on Aug. 10, 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 442, which became the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The Harvard Kennedy School called the event a political achievement “against all odds.”

The program will feature two speakers who played pivotal roles in the success of Japanese American redress. The first is Grant Ujifusa of the Japanese American Citizens League, who will talk about how he devised a justification for the bill that appealed across party lines, and then about finding an event in young Reagan’s life that caused the president to reverse his opposition to H.R. 442.

The second speaker will be former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who conveyed what Ujifusa found to Reagan and spoke directly with him about the legislation.

This conversation will be moderated by Thomson Reuters anchor Fred Katayama, who will also speak about his family’s direct experience with the camps.

Welcoming remarks will be delivered by Ambassador Nicholas Platt, Asia Society president emeritus.

A graduate of Harvard and the founding editor of the Almanac of American Politics, Ujifusa received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese government for his work in redress.

Kean was governor of New Jersey from 1981 to 1989, and later served as chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Katayama is an award-winning anchor at Reuters Insider. He also serves on the board of the Japan Society and the U.S.-Japan Council.

As a young diplomat, Platt accompanied Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger to Beijing in 1972. He later served in the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and as ambassador to Pakistan and the Philippines. He led Asia Society for 12 years before becoming president emeritus in 2004.

Outreach partners include Japan Society, the Japanese American National Museum, Japan Foundation, Japanese American Association of New York, Japan ICU Foundation, and Japan America Student Conference.

Asia Society is located at 725 Park Ave., New York City. Cost: $10 for members; $12 for seniors and students; $15 for non-members. For more information, visit

Can’t make it to this program? Tune in to at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time for a free live video webcast. Viewers are encouraged to submit questions to The program is being filmed by CSPAN for broadcast at a later date.

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