Good Law vs. Good Publicity
Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) vs. Minoru Yasui
During World War II, when the United States was at war with the Axis powers of Germany, Japan, and Italy, it seems that one ethnic group was targeted for discrimination more so than others. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, anti-Japanese sentiment spread rampant through the US. Consequently, Japanese Americans were harshly discriminated against by the government, and in some cases, treated like enemy aliens rather than US citizens and sent to internment camps.
On February 19, 1942, under pressure from state representatives who wanted action taken against Japanese Americans, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This order allowed for the creation of exclusion zones, curfews, and the internment of Japanese Americans during the war . Over 120,000 Nikkei , or people of Japanese ancestry, were sent to interment camps under the guise that it was protecting the US from spies. This theory held little water considering more than two thirds of those sent to the camps were US Citizens and half were children .
On May 6, 1942, Mike Masaoka, the first national spokesperson for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) disseminated a bulletin regarding the groups position on challenging the constitutionality of such actions by the United States Government on people of Japanese heritage. In essence, he deemed that the JACL was unwaveringly opposed to test cases for fear they would be deemed unpatriotic and create bad publicity. Masaoka believed in adhering to the policy of the greatest good for the greatest number and cooperating with the Army regulations “even though our contribution may seem greater than most…”
Minoru Yasui, a lawyer, officer in the Oregon National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserve, and a member of the Portland chapter of the JACL, roamed the streets of Portland in protest of the 8pm curfew the military enacted for all...