WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) released the following statement Jan. 30 after introducing a bicameral package of bills honoring civil rights icon Fred Korematsu (1919-2005) on the anniversary of his birthday.
“Fred Korematsu stood up for the 120,000 Japanese Americans who were forcibly relocated and interned during World War II,” said Takano. “A fierce advocate for justice and a civil rights icon, his legacy reminds us that we must continue to protect the basic human rights of all marginalized groups to ensure such atrocities don’t happen again. Fred Korematsu continues to be an inspiration to me and every person who is fighting to make a more inclusive and kinder America for all.
“My family was among the many who were interned, and so I am proud to reintroduce legislation with Rep. Jill Tokuda, Sen. Mazie Hirono, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth to recognize Mr. Korematsu’s extraordinary heroism and bravery. It is long overdue to honor his contributions to the fight for a more equitable America.”
“At a time of extreme personal peril, Fred Korematsu stood up for over 120,000 Japanese people forcibly relocated and interned during World War II,” said Tokuda. “He went on to spend his life fighting for justice and equality, ensuring that this shameful episode in our nation’s history would never be forgotten and bettering our nation as a whole.
“As the great-granddaughter of someone who was sent to internment camps, Korematsu’s work is especially meaningful. He is recognized as a hero in Hawaii, and I am honored to join my colleagues in introducing these three bills to commemorate his legacy.”
“A champion for civil rights, Fred Korematsu spent his life fighting for justice and equality,” said Hirono. “Since 2013, Hawaii has recognized Jan. 30 as Fred Korematsu Day, joining several other states in honoring Mr. Korematsu for his bravery and commitment to protecting the constitutional and civil rights of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. His legacy serves as an important reminder that we all have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right.
“I am proud to join my colleagues once again in recognizing Mr. Korematsu for his dedication to justice and building on his work to defend our fundamental civil liberties.”
“Our nation must never forget or repeat the horrors thousands of innocent Japanese Americans experienced as prisoners within our own borders,” said Duckworth. “The disturbing spike in hate crimes, violence and bigotry targeting the AANHPI community are a grave reminder of our responsibility to take action to prevent such a national travesty from ever happening again.
“I’m proud to introduce this legislative package with Sen. Hirono and Reps. Takano and Tokuda to reaffirm our commitment to upholding constitutional principles and safeguarding civil liberties, to honor Fred Korematsu on his 104th birthday.”
“Congressman Mark Takano’s leadership role in ‘recognizing the importance of establishing a national Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution’ on Jan. 30 is commendable, as this day encourages ‘civic education’ and participation,” said Dr. Karen Korematsu, founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute. “My father was one man who made a difference in the face of adversity for all Americans and so can the members of the U.S. Congress.
“I hope they will be inspired by Fred Korematsu’s words, ‘Stand up for what is right.’ This is about all of us!”
The bills in this package are:
• A resolution establishing a national Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution (introduced by Takano, Tokuda, Hirono, and Duckworth), which recognizes the importance of establishing a national Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution and encourages all people to reflect on the importance of political leadership and vigilance and on the values of justice and civil rights during times of uncertainty and emergency.
• The Fred Korematsu Congressional Gold Medal Act (introduced by Takano, Tokuda, Hirono, and Duckworth), which would award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Korematsu in recognition of his contributions to civil rights, his loyalty and patriotism to the nation, and his dedication to justice and equality.
• The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act (introduced by Takano, Tokuda, and Duckworth), which would prohibit detention or imprisonment based solely on an actual or perceived protected characteristic of an individual.
This legislative package is endorsed by the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, Demand Progress, Japanese American Citizens League, Japanese American National Museum, NAACP, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Densho, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Heart Wyoming Foundation, National Asian American Pacific Bar Association, Anti-Defamation League, and Human Rights Campaign.