Japanese American National Museum
Press Releases


Leslie Unger - - 213-830-5690


Los Angeles

The Japanese American National Museum is shocked and outraged that attorneys for the Department of Defense have cited the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II as a precedent for the administration’s current policies. In this instance, the Supreme Court’s 1943 ruling in Hirabayashi v. United States has been presented as a rationale for the Defense Department’s efforts to prevent a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay from publicly sharing his artwork.

Besides the impropriety of using the incarceration of 120,000 innocent men, women, and children during WWII to justify any policy or action today, the attorneys seem unaware that, in 1986, a federal trial court (and later a federal appellate court) found that Hirabayashi’s conviction violated due process and ordered his convictions vacated. Further, the Civil Rights Act of 1988—signed into law 30 years ago by President Ronald Reagan—apologized for the government’s forced removal and imprisonment during the war and paid reparations to camp survivors. In signing the Act, Reagan stated, “For here we admit a wrong; here we reaffirm our commitment as a nation to equal justice under the law.”

That the United States government would now rely on Hirabayashi, a precedent that has been uniformly cited as a low point in American jurisprudence, is not only unacceptable but highlights the current administration’s ignorance of painful lessons in the history of our great country.

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About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)

Established in 1985, the Japanese American National Museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public, JANM has presented over 80 exhibitions onsite and traveled 20 of its exhibitions to locations around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America.

JANM is located at 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. General admission is $12 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for members and children under age five. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from noon to 8 p.m. General admission prices and free admission times may not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Closed Monday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information visit or call 213.625.0414.



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