RIVERSIDE — On Feb. 19, the Day of Remembrance for Japanese American internment, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) reintroduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act to prohibit the imprisonment or detainment of American citizens solely on the basis of race, religion, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability.
This legislation establishes clear legal protections to prevent atrocities such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II from ever happening again. The companion legislation led in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) will be introduced in the coming weeks.
“As we reflect on the injustices endured by more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese descendants during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, I am reintroducing the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act,” said Takano. “My Great Uncle Mon gave his life in defense of this country during WWII because he believed in the promise of America, even though at the time, it seemed as though America turned her back on our family.
“I use my family’s history to stay determined to speak out against injustice and to pass legislation that will never allow what happened to Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants during WWII to happen to anyone else. In honor of former Congressman Takai and Fred Korematsu, we must pass this bill to protect all civil liberties and eliminate the possibility of the government legalizing discrimination against the any group of Americans who find themselves marginalized and subject to unfair blame.”
“As a nation, we must never forget or repeat the horrors thousands of Japanese Americans experienced as prisoners within our own borders and we must continue to do everything we can to ensure such a national travesty never happens again,” said Duckworth. “That’s why, in honor of the courage of Fred Korematsu and in remembrance of my dear friend and former colleague Mark Takai, I’m proud to help Congressman Takano announce this bill today and am planning to soon re-introduce this bill in the Senate with Sen. Hirono to protect civil liberties and strengthen our resolve to ensure we do not repeat such shameful acts.”
“No person should ever be singled out and detained because of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability,” said Hirono. “The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act makes sure that no one will experience a horrific internment like the one suffered by Japanese Americans during World War II. Taking this stand on the Day of Remembrance is a fitting tribute that honors Fred Korematsu and Mark Takai’s work to protect the civil liberties of all people.”
The legislation is named in honor of the late Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) for his long-time leadership on this issue prior to his passing, and Fred Korematsu, who bravely challenged the civilian executive order in the Supreme Court that directed all people of Japanese ancestry be removed from designated areas on the West Coast.
Months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Western Command of the U.S. Army, under the authority of Executive Order 9066, ordered that all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast be removed and imprisoned in incarceration camps because they were considered to pose a threat to national security.
Korematsu, a young Japanese American in the San Francisco Bay Area, bravely challenged the order. However, in the landmark case of Korematsu v. United States (1944), the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and endorsed the racially based incarceration that would last for the duration of World War II.
The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act would repudiate Korematsu and prevent similar injustices from reoccurring by amending the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to prohibit detentions based solely on race ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Non-Detention Act of 1971 currently allows for detentions or imprisonment pursuant to an Act of Congress and does not specifically bar detentions or imprisonment based on characteristics such as race or religion.