First Japanese-American Judge on Federal Bench Dies

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi, the first Japanese-American judge appointed to the federal bench, has died at the age of 78.

Takasugi was appointed to the bench in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, the Metropolitan News Enterprise reports. Edwin Prather, president of the Asian Pacific Bar of California, told the newspaper that Takasugi was “a judge who was truly dedicated to equal access to justice and to ensuring that justice was received in every thing.”

During World War II, Takasugi spent three years in a Japanese internment camp at Tule Lake, Calif. Takasugi was 12 when he and his family were forced to live in the camp, according to the Daily Breeze. The Courthouse News Service recalls an interview with Takasugi in which he spoke of the camps “with a total absence of rancor.” He went on to serve as a criminal investigator in the U.S. Army where he attained the rank of corporal and an award as “Man of the Year” for the Far East Theatre.

According to Prather, Takasugi “really fought for those that could not fight for themselves so that no one would suffer the things he suffered.”

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