Library Has Honouliuli Display

Now through March 31 at Kapolei Library, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii pays homage to Hawaii’s internment camp, which held more than 1,700 detainees after the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor bombing.

Titled, Right From Wrong: Learning Through The Lessons of Honouliuli, the exhibit’s significance lies in its education of how the Japanese community’s civil liberties and lives were put into extreme jeopardy because of stereotypes, paranoia and government initiatives to maintain security at the cost of innocent individuals.

“Over the past 10 years we realized the Hawaii internment story was quickly disappearing,” said JCCH resource center volunteer Jane Kurahara. “We were afraid that that whole part in history would not be documented, so we’ve been working on this as part of the effort to bring the story to public awareness.”

The exhibit portrays accounts and highlights information about internment camps that were established on the Big Island at Kilauea Military Center, in jails on Maui and Kauai, and on Oahu where the Immigration and Naturalization Center was reorganized into an internment camp. Eventually all detainees were held in a facility on Sand Island.

“Sand Island acted like a Grand Central Station of sorts. Internees were shipped little by little from Hawaii to the Mainland. There was a total of 10 shipments, and those who were left over were sent to Honoluliuli, which opened March 1, 1943,” said Kurahara.

A major lesson that is being pointed out, according to Kurahara, is that throughout the duration of internments in Hawaii, no evidence of national or local sabotage or espionage was found. Many internees stood in a place of ambiguity, not exactly sure why or what charges were the reasoning behind their imprisonment.

“This display is particularly for the youths,” she noted. “We see discrimination from the time kids are young, and it can become much more serious in bullying, and if it is carried on it becomes something even more serious like internment or holocaust.”

The exhibit is open to the public during library hours, which are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Thursday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information, call 693-7050.