Friday, October 11, 2013

The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i

Last Sunday afternoon the JCCCNC hosted a screening of the documentary The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i. I learned a lot at the event. Because 40% of the Hawaiian population was Japanese during World War II, it was not feasible to do a mass incarceration as occurred on the west coast of the mainland. Instead, there was selective detention, usually targeting prominent community members. Over 2,000 Japanese Americans were detained without charges during the course of the war, all over Hawaii. The largest confinement site was Honouliuli on Oahu. Amazingly, no one knew its location when a local TV station wanted to do a piece about it in conjunction with an airing of Schindler's List in 1998. The site was finally rediscovered in 2002.

The film covers a lot of historical facts within one hour. There are interviews with historians & Hawaii residents recalling their wartime experiences, as well as sepia-toned dramatic re-enactments. It also includes a story of non-Japanese internees & draws parallels to 9/11.

About 200 people attended the screening, which was held in the JCCCNC gymnasium. Carole Hayashino, president of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, & Jane Kurahara, the staffer who rediscovered Honouliuli, were present for a sharp & informative Q & A. The confinement sites in Hawaii are not well documented, & much of the research for the film was done by volunteers over the past 15 years. Honouliuli is on land currently owned by Monsanto, but Ms. Hayashino would like to see it become a part of National Park System. The site is hard to get to, though the JCCH brings in small groups of visitors periodically.

§ The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai'i
dir. Ryan Kawamoto, 2012, USA, 57 mins.

§ Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
Sunday, October 6, 2:00 p.m.

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