In Brief

N.J. honors Japanese man who fought internment camps

By: - January 31, 2023 7:05 am

Karen Korematsu, daughter of Fred Korematsu and founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, speaks in Trenton on Jan. 30, 2023, when Gov. Phil Murphy signed a joint resolution designating Jan. 30 annually as Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution in New Jersey. (Edwin J. Torres/New Jersey Governor’s Office)

Joined by human rights activists and the survivor of a Japanese internment camp, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a resolution Monday marking January 30 as an annual day of recognition for Fred Korematsu.

The late activist fought the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. At the age of 23, Korematsu was arrested and convicted of defying government orders for refusing to go to government camps.

Korematsu’s daughter joined Murphy and lawmakers during the bill signing ceremony in Trenton to stress the importance of standing up for injustice. 

“This demonstrated how one person’s brave stance can change the lives of many others. Let us always remember and honor the memory of my father so that honor and justice will shine forever,” Karen Korematsu, the founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, said in a statement.

New Jersey joins six other states that annually celebrate “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” The resolution passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously in 2022.

In 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Korematsu’s incarceration was a military necessity, a decision widely recognized as one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in the nation’s history. Nearly 40 years later, the conviction was overturned, and former President Bill Clinton awarded Korematsu the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in New Jersey, accounting for more than 1 million residents, according to Census data.

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Sophie Nieto-Munoz
Sophie Nieto-Munoz

Sophie Nieto-Muñoz, a New Jersey native and former Trenton statehouse reporter for, shined a spotlight on the state’s crumbling unemployment system and won several awards for investigative reporting from the New Jersey Press Association. She was a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her report on PetSmart's grooming practices, which was also recognized by the New York Press Club. Sophie speaks Spanish and is proud to connect to the Latinx community through her reporting.