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Japanese American Internment and Civil Liberties

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the relocation and internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans. The president justified his actions as a necessary national security measure "against espionage and against sabotage." This anniversary is preceded by another related observance on January 30, Fred Korematsu Day. Fred Korematsu was one of several Japanese Americans to legally challenge the internment order by suing the U.S. government for violating his civil rights.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to widespread paranoia, even hysteria, that Japanese Americans living on the West Coast might support Japan in its war efforts against the United States. This, combined with a long history of racism against Japanese, particularly on the...

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