JACL Honolulu Condemns Anti-Asian Violence

We stand in solidarity with the victims, survivors, and families of those slain on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in the mass shootings that took place at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. We join with our national JACL to mourn the senseless killings, including those of our Asian sisters and others, and to demand an end to violence.  We ask government officials in Georgia and the United States to conduct a thorough and fair investigation that takes into account the victims and their dignity.  We also call on our government officials to actively work to combat fear, hatred, and racism.  Georgia is geographically distant from us, yet the racism and issues that arise in Georgia remain close.  We are not immune to racism here in Hawai`i.  We must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep everyone safe.  We live in an especially diverse community and honoring our differences is what truly makes us stronger.

JACL Mourns the Passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 21, 2020
For Immediate Release
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org, 202-607-7273
Sarah Baker, VP Public Affairs, sbaker@jacl.org
 The loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is immeasurable. Her life was one of perseverance, meaningful dissent, and the embodiment of the idea that the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice. As the target of intense gender discrimination from the start of her career, she devoted herself to eliminating the very barriers she had faced through the power of the courts. As a litigator, she not only broke down the laws that separated men and women but also broke down the stereotyped roles opening up the potential for both men and women to be and become whatever they desired, not what society forced upon them. Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, and within just a few years wrote the majority decision striking down the male-only admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute. Over the course of her 27 years on the court, she would author numerous majority decisions and minority dissents that would give voice to many who thought they had no voice in our judicial system and also in defiance to the action or inaction of the other co-equal branches of government. Though we have progressed from the days when a recently graduated female law student was unable to find a job practicing law, there remains much to be done to truly achieve the sex and gender equality that Justice Ginsburg championed through her career and lived out in her own life. We can honor her legacy by ensuring that her successor in the court is just as committed to promoting continued progress towards equality and justice for all. We send our condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s family and all Americans feeling the pain of her loss. 

Japanese American Citizens League Honolulu Chapter Statement on Black Lives Matter Protests

We, the Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, are both heartbroken and infuriated at the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Responding to these heinous murders calls to mind the too-many-other times Black men and women have been killed. This is a critical time for all of us. The diverse groups of people who comprise this country and our State must take notice and actively strive to end the ongoing racism and injustices that our Black and Brown brothers and sisters face daily. Fear has been the root of many heinous acts throughout our history. For Japanese Americans, the fear of the enemy alien resulted in Presidential Executive Order 9066, which stripped over 120,000 Japanese American citizens of their physical freedom and of their homes and businesses. It is this fear that can be combatted by the embrace and action of community. 

These emotions of anger and sadness run deep and grow daily. With all the advances in civil rights that we have accomplished as a country, it remains perplexing that we are continually having to say that the thoughtless disregard for the life of a fellow human being is wrong. Nevertheless, as long as this needs to be said, we will continue to say it. It is our beloved right and an exercise of our liberty. As a community of Japanese Americans and other supporters of civil rights in Hawai‘i, we hold tremendous privilege. Our privilege requires us to acknowledge the egregiousness of the senseless violence suffered by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. We must continue the work necessary to ensure that this cannot happen ever again, and we ask all in our communities to do the same.

We are saddened that Black men and women still live in fear and cannot fully enjoy the basic freedoms of feeling safe while doing simple daily activities like jogging, being at home, and going for a drive. We are outraged not only that Mr. Floyd’s murderer already had a long history of complaints against him as a police officer but also that his fellow officers, including an Asian American officer, stood by silently allowing Mr. Floyd to be killed.

As we watch a law enforcement official brutally and heartlessly kill a Black man on the street, we do so through our television set, computers, and smartphones. Many experience racism and its harms daily first-hand, some as witnesses and survivors, some as subjects and victims. We vow that we will not be complicit in the killings of Black men and women.  

In Hawai‘i, we are blessed in many ways. One example stands out when our nation is in turmoil once again: our interdependence and grounding in the value of aloha is set by the indigenous people of Hawai‘i. This connectedness is needed more than ever in this resurgence of national fear and resulting hate and violence. Even social distancing mandates which aim to separate us physically cannot separate our hearts from each other.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. has said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It is important to note as President Barack Obama has often stated that the arc does not bend itself towards justice. Rather it takes each of us to grab hold of our hearts and move ourselves in the direction of justice. The Honolulu Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League stands in support with all those peaceful protestors and demonstrators standing up for their rights and the rights of all. We urge our membership and the communities of our State to recognize the rampant injustices and to take action to effectuate positive change as we fight for equal opportunity and justice for all.

Talk story with Professor Eric K. Yamamoto

Please join us for a Talk Story with Professor Eric Yamamoto about “Democratic Liberties and National Security” and his new book published by Oxford Press, In the Shadow of Korematsu. 

Talk Story with Professor Eric Yamamoto
Thursday, June 28
Judiciary History Center
417 South King Street

4:45 pm    Doors open
5:00 pm    Program 
6:15 pm    Book signing
(books available for purchase at a discount)

We look forward to seeing you there. Please RSVP to jaclhon@gmail.com by Thursday, June 14. 2018, so we can make a headcount for food and beverages.  

For more information, please download the event flyer.

Book Description
In the Shadow of Korematsu: Democratic Liberties and National Security tackles pressing questions about the significance of judicial independence for a constitutional democracy committed to both security and the rule of law. What will happen when those detained, harassed, or discriminated against turn to the courts for protection? Will the judiciary passively accept a president’s unsubstantiated claim of national security as justification (as it did during WWII in Korematsu v. U.S.), or will it serve as guardian of the Bill of Rights (as it did during the 1984 Korematsu coram nobis reopening)? Through the lens of the World War II Japanese American incarceration cases, Professor Eric K.Yamamoto opens a path through the legal thicket so that American society might better accommodate both security and liberty. Eric K. Yamamoto is the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai`i

What people are saying:

“In this masterful study, Eric Yamamoto not only shows why Korematsu continues to throw its dark shadow over American law and policy; he also explains how, moving forward, judges can reconcile the competing needs to protect our national security and preserve our civil liberties. His penetrating insights could not be more timely. An urgently-needed book.”

 –Angela P. Harris, Professor of Law, University of California at Davis Law School

“Is the Korematsu case wrongly decided, yet capable of repetition? At a time when nativism and racism again parade in the disguise of national security, Eric Yamamoto (one of Fred Korematsu’s lawyers) deftly illuminates that landmark’s long shadow, unraveling its conflicting strands and calling for determined constitutional advocacy to follow active remembering.” 

–Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School

“My father Fred pursued his WWII and later coram nobis legal challenges to the government’s falsely justified mass Japanese American exclusion and incarceration so that ‘it’ would not happen again…to anyone. Professor Yamamoto’s compelling and insightful book—with its emphasis on people, courts and democracy—opens a path from historical injustice toward a more just America today and tomorrow.”

 –Karen Korematsu, Executive Director, Fred T. Korematsu Institute


[MEDIA RELEASE] JACL Honolulu Joins Korematsu Center in Filing Amicus Brief in Hawaii v. Trump


March 14, 2017

The Japanese American Citizens League – Honolulu Chapter (JACL-Honolulu) joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality (Korematsu Center) and others in filing an amicus brief on March 10, 2017, in State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh v. Trump et al., pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. The brief supports a legal challenge to the Trump Administration’s Executive Order 13780 (March 6, 2017), entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which replaces Executive Order 13769 (January 27, 2017), of the same title.

The challengers allege that the Executive Order violates the First and Fifth Amendments, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
In their amicus brief, the Korematsu Center and joining amici assert that courts can and should review executive branch action on immigration. The “plenary power doctrine”—arguably conferring a blank check to the executive branch—is based on a string of overtly racist and outdated cases. During World War II, the federal government used arguments similar to those it has submitted in opposing the State of Hawaii’s challenge. In accepting those arguments then, the Court acquiesced to the incarceration of Japanese Americans by executive order. Those arguments should have been rejected then and they should be rejected now—the 9th Circuit and the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia have already rejected them in their review of the previous Executive Order.  
“The JACL-Honolulu has a proud history of standing up to those who misuse their power to discriminate against groups based on ethnicity or religion. Seventy-five years ago another administration tragically instituted Executive Order 9066, which led to the wrongful incarceration of thousands of American citizens. We must not let prejudice and racism enter the sphere of public policy again. We oppose the current administration’s discriminatory executive orders and we stand strong with our community,” said Alison Kunishige, JACL-Honolulu president.
Hawaii counsel includes Louise Ing and Claire Wong Black of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, as well as Eric Yamamoto of the University of Hawaii Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law. Oral arguments in the State of Hawaii case are scheduled for March 15, 2017, at 9:30 a.m. Hawaii time.
For further information, please email jaclhon@gmail.com.                  

America, Don’t Let History Repeat Itself

Today marks 75 years since the signing of Executive Order 9066, the executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that cleared the way for the internment of American citizens of Japanese ancestry in internment camps. JACL Honolulu placed this advertisment in this weekend’s special edition of the Hawaii Herald as a call to not let this dark chapter of our nation’s history repeat itself.

Coram Nobis: Reopening the 1944 Supreme Court Korematsu Decision

“National Security and Democratic Liberties: The Continuing Import of Korematsu v. U.S.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 (EO 9066) issued during World War II that cleared the way for the internment of Japanese-, German- and Italian-Americans to camps across the country. In 1944, Fred Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of EO 9066 and his incarceration in the historic Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States and lost. To this day, while Mr. Korematsu’s original conviction was overturned the Korematsu decision still stands.

Two events will examine the significance of Korematsu and particularly in light of current events in America:

The first, on Thursday, February 23rd at the William S. Richardson School of Law, is a forum featuring presentations by Korematsu coram nobis legal team members Dale Minami, Lori Bannai and Eric Yamamoto, with Karen Korematsu and Richardson Scholar Advocate law students Anna Jang and Jaime Tokioka. 

The second, on Friday, February 24th downtown at the Judicial History Center, is a reception and roundtable Q&A with the same panelists, plus coram nobis team member Leigh-Ann Miyasato. 

Both events are open to the public and have limited seating.

For more information, please contact Julie Levine of UH Foundation at julie.levine@uhfoundation.org or (808) 956-8395.

Download a PDF of the event flyer.

JACL Honolulu Opposes President Trump’s Anti-Immigration Executive Orders


February 1, 2017

We, the undersigned Hawaii-based organizations, join the Muslim Association of Hawaii to oppose and reject the recent anti-immigration executive orders issued by President Donald Trump. There is no place in Hawaii and our nation for racist, discriminatory and ill-advised national policies as put forth by the Trump Administration. These orders, that (1) halt refugee admissions from all countries for at least 120 days, (2) indefinitely halt the admission of Syrian refugees, (3) lower the number of refugee admissions to the United States, (4) directs Department of Homeland Security to determine the extent to which state and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and (5) suspend all entry of individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries are based on the misguided idea that certain religious and ethnic populations are more prone to violence and are incompatible with American values. The Trump Administration’s executive orders are an un-American and mean spirited ban on Muslims, issued under the guise of protecting our country.

This is not the first time we have seen national security used as the basis to discriminate against ethnic minorities. Executive Order 9066, issued in 1942 during World War II, resulted in the unlawful internment of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry based solely on their race. Like Executive Order 9066, these orders will not make our communities safer or our nation stronger, and in fact undermine our standing in the world community as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Our communities have experienced exclusion by law from the 1800s through the 1960s — with bans on country admission like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Immigration Act of 1924. Our communities, especially our Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities were viewed with suspicion and hate, and subjected to violence in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Our rights and liberties as Americans are not made stronger by excluding others. Rather, the strength of our local communities and our nation is based on embracing people from all over the world. We are a state and a nation of immigrants that should honor our native peoples as well as those who seek refuge here.

Refugees, like other immigrants, enrich our communities and contribute significantly to American society. We oppose efforts to reduce the number of refugees entering the United States and recognize the hope that the United States represents to those in humanitarian crises. Refugees encounter a high level of scrutiny and security screening before arriving in the United States, often taking almost two years. Those refugees who are admitted for resettlement are usually the most helpless and vulnerable and have fled violence or persecution.

Muslim Americans have made lasting and significant contributions to the United States in business, science, engineering, sports, entertainment and many other facets of American society. This long-standing history and relationship began in 1777 when the predominately Muslim Kingdom of Morocco became the first country to recognize the United States, and in 1787, ratified the Treaty of Peace and Friendship that still remains in effect. America is better and stronger today because of the contributions of Muslims who were part of U.S. history from its very beginnings. President Barack Obama said it best, “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our coworkers, our sports heroes. And yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country.”

We stand together as partners in peace and justice with our Muslim brothers and sisters here in Hawaii, throughout the U.S., and abroad in opposing the Executive Orders put forth. We stand together to support the rights of immigrants and refugees and will oppose further policies that rely on exclusion based on religion and ethnicity. Our multi-cultural, multi-racial community in Hawaii is a testament to the fact that we are stronger together as inclusive, diverse, respectful, peaceful communities and we call upon other organizations, communities, and individuals to stand together with us, demonstrating our spiritual values of compassion, respect, kindness, and aloha.

In strength and solidarity,


Please Join Us: 2017 Distinguished Service Awards Dinner

Download Invitation/Flyer (pdf) | Download Sponsorship/Ticket Order Form (pdf)

Japanese American Citizens League
Honolulu Chapter

Cordially invites you to our
2017 Distinguished Service Awards Dinner

Hilton Hawaiian Village
Waikiki Beach Resort | Coral Ballroom
2005 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI

Saturday, March 4, 2017
5:30 PM Registration
6:30 PM Dinner

To recognize these Champions of Civil Rights

U.S. Senator
Brian Schatz

Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge
Daniel R. Foley

Community Activist
Kim Coco Iwamoto

Sponsorships (Table of 8) 

Diamond – $10,000 
Platinum – $7,500 
Gold – $5,000
Silver – $3,000

Individual Tickets
JACL Members – $125
Non-Members – $150

RSVP by Friday, February 3, 2017
Please make check payable to
JACL Honolulu Chapter
P.O. Box 1291, Honolulu, HI 96807

For more information, please contact
Liann Ebesugawa
jaclhon@gmail.com or 543-4986

For sponsorship inquiries, please contact
AJ Halagao
ajhalagao@hei.com or 492-6673