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Fred Korematsu Quick Facts
|Birth Date/Birth Place||(1919-01-30)January 30, 1919
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Death||March 30, 2005(2005-03-30)
Marin County, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Respiratory failure|
|Resting place||Mountain View Cemetery
37°50′06″N 122°14′12″W / 37.83500°N 122.23667°W / 37.83500; -122.23667
|Monuments|| • Fred T. Korematsu Elementary School in Davis
• Fred T. Korematsu Campus of San Leandro High School
• Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy in Oakland
• Fred T. Korematsu Middle School in El Cerrito, CA
|Home Address|| • Topaz War Relocation Center
• Salt Lake City, Utah
• Detroit, Michigan
|School or College(s)||Castlemont High School (Oakland, California)|
|Relationship(s)||Kathryn Pearson Korematsu|
|Kid(s)||Karen Korematsu and Ken Korematsu|
|Awards Won||Presidential Medal of Freedom|
Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu , born on , died on , owes its notoriety to having challenged until the US Supreme Court the constitutionality of internment Japanese-Americans on the US West Coast during the Second World War. He himself was one of many American citizens of Japanese origin on the West Coast during the war who had been forced to internment. Some time after the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Decree 9066, authorizing War Secretary Henry L. Stimson to demand that all residents of Japanese origin living in “West Coast Exclusion Zone ” refers to the internment camps provided for this purpose. The Supreme Court judgment in Korematsu v. United States of America is among the most controversial decisions made by the country’s highest court of racial discrimination.
Fred Korematsu’s Biography
Fred Korematsu was born in 1919 to Japanese parents in Oakland, California, where he grew up while working on family land. Being born in American soil, he benefited since his birth of the American citizenship by jus soli.
When General John DeWitt, West Coast Defense Officer, ordered individuals of Japanese origin (US citizens or non-US citizens) to report to the Assembly Centers for re-routing to the camps, Fred Korematsu refused to comply and tried to evade procedures. He deliberately chose to violate the civil exclusion order to avoid the forced removal of his girlfriend (an Italian-American). He used an assumed name and hid his Japanese origins, preferring rather Hawaiian and Spanish origins. He was captured on May 30, 1942, and then charged in federal court. The judgment was unfavorable to him, he brought the case in court of appeal but the verdict was maintained. He turned as a last resort to the Supreme Court, which rendered its decision on December 18, 1944.
Korematsu c. United States
Written by Judge Hugo Black, the majority decision (6 to 3) again rejected Korematsu. The judgment stated that, although constitutionally debatable, forced exclusion was justified by the exceptional circumstances (of emergency and peril) inherent in war and national defense. The Court did not, however, comment on Korematsu’s loyalty, or whether the restriction of civil liberties of an ethnic group was legitimate. Rather, it limited its view to the constitutionality of these restrictions.
Nevertheless, in another judgment, the Court rendered in December 1944 a decision more favorable to the internees. The decision named Ex Parte Endo released a Japanese citizen, Mitsuye Endo, internment camps because the Justice Department and the War Relocation Authority (the civilian agency responsible for relocation and internment of the Japanese) conceded that Mrs. Endo was a “loyal and law-abiding” citizen. The Court determined that no power was conferred to detain citizens longer than necessary to discern loyal citizens from disloyal citizens. It should be noted, however, that the Endo decision, unlike the Korematsu case, did not rule on the constitutionality of the initial detention as such.
Continuation and afterthought at trial
The special inquiry commission set up by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 disavowed the Supreme Court’s findings in the Korematsu case. It states that the decision to displace individuals of Japanese descent into prison camps was due to “racial prejudice, war hysteria, and the failures of political leadership”, not because of the need for defense. In 1988 Congress apologized to the survivors and awarded them a personal compensation of $ 20,000 per living prisoner.
Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983. A lawyer, Peter Irons, found that US Attorney General Charles Fahy’s assistant deliberately withdrew records from FBI reports and military intelligence. that citizens of Japanese origin did not constitute a real risk to national security. Irons and a group of lawyers petitioned in federal court for the miscarriage of justice and overturned Korematsu’s conviction. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel found this information crucial, especially as the Supreme Court’s judgment was based on misinformation. However, it did not explicitly overturn the 1944 decision.
President Bill Clinton decorated Fred Korematsu with the Presidential Freedom Medal in 1998.
Korematsu strongly opposed racial profiling and internment without trial in Guantanamo prison. He notably submitted amici curiae in the cases of Rasul v. Bush and Rumsfeld c. Padilla (en) opposing the sacrifice of civil liberties for reasons of supposed military necessities.
He died at home in Marin County, California, on March 30, 2005, due to respiratory failure.
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