STATEMENT: Roosevelt Institute Reflects on Wrongful Japanese American Incarceration, 80th Anniversary of FDR Signing of Executive Order 9066

The Roosevelt Institute acknowledges the harm the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration's policy decision caused the Japanese American community, and by extension, all Americans

February 17, 2022
Ariela Weinberger
(212) 444-9130

New York, NY—Eighty years ago on February 19, 1942, 74 days after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the removal of civil rights and forced incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. 

In keeping with the sentiments of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—who early on acknowledged the wrongdoings of this policy—the Roosevelt Institute posthumously honored civil rights activist Fred T. Korematsu with the 2021 Freedom Medal this past fall; Korematsu’s challenge of Executive Order 9066 went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and his advocacy for reparations has inspired generations of activists.

On this Day of Remembrance, the Roosevelt Institute shares the following reflections:

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Board Chair of the Roosevelt Institute and granddaughter of FDR: “While I cannot undo the harm caused by this forced incarceration policy, I can acknowledge its cruelty and restate my family’s commitment to historical repair and redress. This past fall I was honored to highlight the courageous efforts of Mr. Korematsu and thus publicly acknowledge and apologize for the harm Executive Order 9066 caused Japanese Americans.” 

Watch Anna Eleanor Roosevelt’s conversation with Mr. Korematsu’s daughter, Dr. Karen Korematsu, at the Four Freedoms Awards here

Felicia Wong, President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute: “What Mr. Korematsu understood well was that our nation must learn from FDR’s misguided policy choices: There is no justice without racial justice. As a Chinese American, I take this day to remember and honor all of the Japanese Americans who were incarcerated, and to stand in solidarity with those in my community facing racist assaults as a result of COVID-19 and increased anti-Asian violence.”

Learn more about the Roosevelt Institute’s efforts to repair and redress:

Attend a virtual seminar: Earlier this week, FDR Library Acting Director William Harris spoke to historian Greg Robinson, author of several books on Japanese American Incarceration, including: By Order of the President and A Tragedy of Democracy. This program will rebroadcast on the Day of Remembrance, February 19, at 2 PM ET. You can join here

Read from our blog: “Racial Justice: A Foundation for FDR’s Four Freedoms in 2021” by Roosevelt Institute research associate Mariama Badjie explains how the work of last year’s Four Freedoms recipients “reflects the emerging worldview that racial justice can no longer be a political afterthought.”