Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

One Man Seeks Justice from a Nation: Korematsu v. United States

Eric Yamamoto, Dale Minami and May Lee Heye

Fred Korematsu was a courageous American of Japanese descent who defied the U.S. government's unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 to remove 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast to concentration camps. Fred defied the order. The police captured him and turned him over to the FBI. A newspaper headline read, “Jap spy arrested in San Leandro.”

Fred challenged the internment twice with the help of civil rights organizations and individuals. In 1944, his case reached the Supreme Court which voted 6-3 to uphold the lower court’s ruling. Interning Japanese Americans was based on the discriminatory idea that there are “possible disloyal members who might have constituted a menace to the national defense and safety.”

Almost 40 years later Fred returned to court to challenge the original court decision. Irrefutable evidence was discovered that top government officials knew and covered up significant government intelligence information that Japanese Americans had not actually posed a threat to national security. His 1944 conviction was overturned. The decision eventually propelled the Internment Redress movement to success.

The "One Man Seeks Justice" story addresses these issues in the wake of September 11, 2001, and the racial and religious profiling against Muslims, Arabs and South Asians that ensued. Fred’s story challenges readers to remain vigilant against civil liberties violations even in times of war or national crisis.

Unit Plan
9-10, College

WWII, Japanese American Internment, Post 9/11


“After Words: September 11, 2001” poem
One Man Seeks Justice from a Nation: Korematsu v. United States
Who Took the Rap? A Call to Action

Unit Plan

US History Gr 11 – WWII Internment


One Man Seeks Justice from a Nation: Korematsu v. United States

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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.