Contact: Priscilla Ouchida, Executive Director
The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) applauds President Obama for awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the late Minoru “Min” Yasui for his dedication in fighting for civil and human rights. Yasui challenged the constitutionality of a military curfew order during World War II on the grounds of racial discrimination.
“JACL commends the President for recognizing Min Yasui who took a stance on behalf of 120,000 Japanese American men, women, and children who were unjustly imprisoned during World War II,” said JACL Executive Director Priscilla Ouchida. “He joins Fred Korematsu and Gordon Hirabayashi who were previously recognized for their wartime courage. These men and Mitsuye Endo, whose case led to the release of Japanese Americans, challenged the government’s ability to deny loyal Americans their basic rights. Their cases continue to remind all citizens of this great country of the strengths and fragility of the rights promised by the Constitution.”
Yasui was an active member of JACL throughout his life, taking on leadership roles at both the local and national level. He was a founding member of the Mile High Chapter in Colorado and led the JACL National Redress Committee, which successfully sought an apology and compensation from the U.S. government for the unjust treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Yasui’s commitment to justice and community extended beyond his own. He worked with the African American and Latino communities to help establish the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver and the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization, respectively.
Founded in 1929, JACL is the nation’s oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization. As part of our commitment to social justice and diversity, JACL passed a national resolution in 2014 seeking a Presidential Medal of Freedom for Yasui. JACL is proud of the contributions of our leaders have made in the fight for the civil and human rights of all Americans.