(Photo caption: A memorial shrine at the Manzanar Japanese incarceration Camp in California. (Via Wikimedia Commons by Daniel Mayer)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) reintroduced a bill to prevent a repeat of the incarceration camps that imprisoned Japanese Americans during WWII solely because of their race.
The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act would ban the imprisonment or detainment of Americans based on race, religion, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity or disability.
Takano reintroduced the measure on February 19, the Day of Remembrance, and the date in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This led to the incarceration of nearly 120,000 people of Japanese descent, the majority of whom were American citizens.
The Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act would amend the Non-Detention Act of 1971. That Act requires Congressional approval of imprisonment or detention but does not ban detention or imprisonment based on race, religion or other traits.
“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 Rep. 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.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) will introduce the companion legislature in the Senate.
“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,” Senator Duckworth said.
“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 Senator 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. 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,” said Senator Hirono.
Rep. Takano and Sens. Duckworth and Hirono first introduced the Korematsu-Takai Civil Liberties Protection Act in 2017 and again in 2019.
The act is named for Fred Korematsu, a civil rights advocate who was arrested in 1942 for disobeying a relocation order. Korematsu’s case went to the Supreme Court, which in 1944 ruled 6-3 that Japanese detention was necessary.
The act also honors the late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai from Hawaii.
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