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NW Life | News | Think Out Loud

Minoru Yasui's Fight For Justice | The Legacy Of Tule Lake Internment Camp

Satsuki Ina never heard that her parents had been in an internment camp until she was in college.

Satsuki Ina never heard that her parents had been in an internment camp until she was in college.

Sage Van Wing/OPB

Minoru Yasui was a trailblazer. He was the first Japanese-American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1939 and the first Japanese-American member of the Oregon State Bar. He was born in Hood River and devoted his life and career to various social justice causes.

During World War II, he spent nine months in solitary confinement at Multnomah County Jail for challenging the military curfew in place for German nationals, Italian nationals and anyone with Japanese ancestry. He continued to fight the criminal charges until his death in 1986, arguing that the curfews were unconstitutional.

We spoke to Yasui’s niece, Joan Yasui Emerson, on the day he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.


Also on the show, we rebroadcast interviews with participants in last summer’s Tule Lake Pilgrimage. It’s a biannual gathering of Japanese Americans who were interned at the Tule Lake camp on the southern border of Oregon, and their descendants.  We hear from Dr. Satsuki Ina, Jimi Yamaichi and Akemi Yamane.

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