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Japanese American to get highest US civilian award

US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he will award Gordon Hirabayashi a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Washington: US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he will award Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American who defied the internment of Japanese during World War II, a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the government has offered.

"In the midst of World War II...The son of Japanese immigrants, Gordon Hirabayashi, ignored the curfew and refused transfer to an internment camp," Obama said in a speech in Washington.

According to the White House, Hirabayashi was jailed for his defiance.

Although he took his case all the way to the Supreme Court, he was convicted in 1943.

In 1987, however, he won a ruling that internment was illegal.

Citing Hirabayashi`s remarks that he never looked at his case as one simply affecting Japanese Americans, but one which affected fundamental human rights, Obama said, "he reminds us that each of us is only who we are today because somebody, somewhere, felt a sense of responsibility -- not just to themselves, but to their family, and their community and to this country that we all love."

Hirabayashi died in January at age 93. (Kyodo)


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