Chapter 1, Section 1
In Progress

The War’s Effect on the People of Hawai‘i

Because the timing for the attack was perfect, there arose great suspicion that the Japanese in Hawai‘i had given information to the Japanese military. Facts later proved this was not true, but the Japanese Americans on the West Coast of the United States were sent to relocation camps in remote areas of the mainland. They had to live behind barbed wire until the end of the war. In Hawai‘i, most of the Japanese were not sent away to camps because they were such a large part of the population. In fact, Hawai‘i would not have been able to manage the war effort without them. But martial law was declared and “suspicious” people were rounded up. There was a blackout every night. Food and gasoline were rationed. Japanese from Hawai‘i, along with some Koreans, Germans, and even Italians, were arrested and sent to Honouliuli Internment Camp on the ‘Ewa side of O‘ahu. Although the camp could have housed up to 3,000 people, no more than 320 were ever there at any time.

Japanese Americans showed their loyalty to America from the first day. Many joined the armed services at once, making up the 100th Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. These were to become the most decorated troops in all of the American armed services in this war. Eighty- one percent of the islanders who died in the war were of Japanese ancestry. People of all ethnic groups throughout Hawai‘i worked side by side with the United States all through the war. While there were many miles between the islands and the mainland, there was no “gap” between people united in defeating a common enemy.

japanese internment poster opt
Japanese Internment poster


Young Japanese-American girl at Jerome War Relocation Center in Arkansas


442 regimental combat team
Japanese-American infantrymen of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team hike up a muddy French road in the Chambois Sector, France, in late 1944



442nd Infantry regimental colors on display in Hawaii 1946
442nd Infantry regimental colors on display in Hawai‘i, 1946


Students at the University of Hawai‘i practice gas mask drills


Putting up barbed wire in Honolulu under martial law


Local boy collects old tires and rubber inner tubes for the war effort


Keiki show off their model airplanes in a 1942 YMCA classroom
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