Short documentary video about Hawai’i’s Japanese American internment camp, forgotten over the decades

Most history books mention only the mainland internment camps, relocation centers and Justice Department camps if they mention the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II at all. It’s often stated that people of Japanese descent in Hawai’i weren’t rounded up and imprisoned — or that only a few were arrested, and then sent to mainland camps — because there are so many Japanese in Hawai’i that if they did that, the territory’s economy would shut down (Hawai’i didn’t become a state until 1959).

But there was an internment camp right on Oahu, not far from the capital, Honolulu, on rugged land that’s now owned by Monsanto. They didn’t lock up all Japanese Americans like they did on the West Coast. And they didn’t imprison entire families. They focused on community leaders, but still held thousands in Honouliuli, the prison camp.

The Japanese Community Center of Hawai’i has captured some of this long-forgotten history in this short documentary. I hope they do more. Next time we get to Hawai’i, we’ll return to the JCCH to see if they have an exhibit or other material about the topic. Brian Niiya, the Director of Program & Development at the JCCH told us about the early states of their research several years ago when we first visited the JCCH, so I’m glad to see they got this video done.

Even though Japanese Americans in Hawai’i are anything but the invisible minority that we are on the mainland, their history needs to be highlighted and preserved just as it needs to be documented here.

(From HolyKaw on

(Cross-posted on