Race Relations and Experience of Japanese In Hawaii During World War II

Nakamura, Kelli
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Hawaii is often considered to be one of the great "melting pots" of the world, bringing together different ethnicities and creating a unique way of life as the "major ethno-cultural groups and innumerable small ones [are] all involved in a dynamic process of assimilation." Accordingly, it is believed that ethnic affiliations ameliorated in a unifying process of “Americanization" and race is eliminated as a divisive force in the community. However, the experience of the Japanese in Hawaii during World War II highlights a discrepancy in the myth of Hawaii as a "melting-pot" where racial tensions are believed to be undermined by the "Aloha spirit." Racial issues played an important part in the perception and subsequent treatment of the Japanese in Hawaii, who were subjected to both institutional and individual discrimination after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Not only is it important to recognize that the Japanese in the islands endured discrimination from other ethnic groups during the war, but that there were different causes for this discriminatory treatment. As a result of widespread community hostility, the Japanese in Hawaii were forced to prove their American citizenship and loyalty as they faced pressure from different ethnic groups, the military, and the Japanese community itself that feared the appearance of disloyalty. Many Japanese felt their conduct not only reflected on themselves, but the entire Japanese community, which they represented. Ultimately, the Japanese made significant contributions on the homefront as well as on the battlefield where many made the ultimate sacrifice defending their country.
80 pages
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