Densho Digital Archive
Steven Okazaki Collection
Title: Dale Minami Interview II
Narrator: Dale Minami
Location: Oakland, California
Date: February 18, 1984
Densho ID: denshovh-mdale-03-0005

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Q: The Korematsu decision was a victory, but how much larger can the issue go, and what would a real victory be?

DM: think in the end you've got to talk about redress and reparations. What we've wanted, with the Korematsu case and the other cases was a legal victory. And to that degree we have undercut some of the basic laws that we thought were unfair. Laws that were created by the Supreme Court in 1943 and '44. What I feel is that the issue is much larger than these three men, these three men being symbolic of a whole generation of people who were taken away without just cause. I think the only way that a real victory could be considered a real victory if they were to receive redress and reparations for some of the... or compensation, at least, for some of the troubles they went through, unjustly.

Q: Would you tell us how this is opening the way for redress?

DM: Well, I think it has set a precedent to the degree that the court in our case, Judge Patel, said that in a sense, that the evacuation was basically illegal. I think that creates a kind of, or undercuts the legal foundation of what was done to the Japanese Americans during World War II. Without a legal sanction, it could be argued easily that what was done was legally wrong, as well as morally and ethically wrong. And from that point of view, anytime you have a wrong, you should have relief, and that relief has to be some type of compensation.


DM: I think we have received a total victory on this particular case, the Korematsu case. That's because we got all the relief we asked for, the petition was granted. But as far as the issue, the issue of what was done to Japanese Americans, will they receive relief for what was done to them? I think the victory is yet to come. A total victory to me in this context means for Japanese Americans some kind of compensation, redress and reparations. And I think for this country, total victory is not going to be had until we really do win the struggle against discrimination, against racism. From that point of view, it's going to be a long time coming. There's a lot of struggles left to go through. I think at least with this legal victory, though, in Korematsu, there... it's been shown that there's some hope, even though legally we won the case that was maybe forty years too late in being won, at least we did win it. And while I consider that a legal victory, I think in a moral sense, we haven't really won and we won't have won until we bring compensation to the victims and unless we eradicate the kind of initial racism and discrimination that caused this whole episode in the first place.


DM: What Judge Patel did on November 10th of 1983, was basically to deny the government's request and grant ours. In that sense what she did is deny their motion to dismiss and granted our petition. She held that the government's failure to respond was tantamount to an admission that our allegations were, in fact, correct, our allegations of misconduct by the prosecution and governmental agencies. The reasons behind, the reasons she gave for her ruling, in denying the government's petition and granting ours, I mean, denying the government's motion and granting ours, was that the evacuation, the exclusion of Japanese Americans, in a larger sense was illegal, and that the cases and the convictions obtained on Fred Korematsu were done through prosecutorial misconduct, and that the orders themselves were tainted by racism. And because of that she felt the appropriate remedy was to grant our petition and afford us all appropriate relief, which is vacation of the conviction and dismissal of the underlying indictment.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 1984, 2010 Densho and Steven Okazaki. All Rights Reserved.