Image - The Korematsu Case

Past Event

The Korematsu Case and the World War II Japanese-American Incarceration: Could It Happen Again?

In 1942, as 110,000 Japanese Americans in the western U.S. were incarcerated in desolate “internment camps” around the country, Fred Korematsu refused and mounted a legal challenge that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 1944 case Korematsu v. U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that compulsory exclusion was justified during times of “emergency and peril,” a decision later discredited in 1984 due to the government’s presentation of “intentional falsehoods” and “willful intentional falsehoods” about “military necessity” during the original case. What precedent, if any, was established by Korematsu? Eric K. Yamamoto, author of the newly published 2018 book In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security, considers the present-day significance of the ruling in the context of security-liberty controversies such as the president’s Muslim travel ban and sweeping electronic surveillance of Americans. He addresses the importance of judicial independence and how genuinely committed we in America are to democracy and the Constitution.

Yamamoto is nationally and internationally recognized for his work on national security and civil liberties, civil rights and social justice. He has received many outstanding teaching awards and has published numerous articles, chapters and five books, including Interracial Justice, which received a national award as among the best social justice books of 2000. He was on the legal team in the 1984 Korematsu coram nobis case. He continues his work on post-9/11 controversies, including writing amicus briefs in appeals to the Supreme Court and other courts in the 2017-18 “travel ban” cases. 

MLF Organizer
Lillian Nakagawa

MLF: Asia-Pacific Affairs

Internment camp photo credit:

In association with the Fred T. Korematsu Institute

April 2, 2018

The Commonwealth Club
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, 94105
United States

Image - Eric K. Yamamoto

Eric K. Yamamoto

Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii; Author, Interracial Justice and In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security


5:30 p.m. check-in
6 p.m. program
7 p.m. book signing