World War II Pacific Naval Campaign: Japanese on the Haiwaiian Islands

Figure 1.--Here basketball coach Edwin Firiera gives his team a peptalk. Many of the team members worked at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard. This is one of the many extensive efforts to promote war bonds. The photograph was not dated, but was probanly taken about 1943.Source: Office of War Information. VMI Collection..

Large numbers of ethnic Japnese lived on the Hawaian Islands. The first Japanese immigrants were brought to the Islands before the Islands were American territory as contract laborers for the American-owned sugar cane and pineapple plantations (1885). Bybthe tgime of World War II, rthere were about 160,000 Hawaiians of Japanese ancestry, about 40 percent of the Islands' population. Most prived to be fiercly loyal to the United States. Unlike the ethnic Japanese on the Pacific Coast, the Japanese on the Islands were not interned in a wholesale operation. We are not sure who made this determination. A small number were arrested by the FBI and interned. They were indivisuals who belonged to Japanese patriotic organizations or for some reason were considered security risks. (Their families were often interned with them.) The numbers were very small. About 2,000 Japanese Americans in addition to 100 German Americans and Italian Americans (both aliens and U.S. citizens) were interned at eight locations on the Hawaiian. It is not entirely clear why they were not interned because the Japanese threat to Pearl Harbor was much greater than it ever was to California. It is probably because the etnic Japanese presense on the Islands was so important to the economy that it would have disrupted the Island economy, including the operations of the military bases. Facilities like Pearl Harbor, for example, had many Japanese workers in the shipyards.


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Created: 6:58 AM 5/24/2011
Last updated: 6:58 AM 5/24/2011