Suspected criminals, spies, and "human secret weapons" : The evolution of Japanese-American representations in political and cultural discourse from Hawai'i to Japan, 1880--1950s

Date
2008
Authors
Nakamura, Kelli Y.
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2008.
This dissertation explores issues of race, class, criminality, and ethnic identity in the Japanese community in Hawai'i from the arrival of the first Japanese migrants in 1886 through World War II and its immediate aftermath. It traces the development of anti-Japanese sentiment in Hawai'i, which culminated in the institution of martial law, the internment of nearly 1,500 individuals in Hawai'i, and the forced repatriation to Japan of certain allegedly disloyal members of the Japanese community during World War II. This study investigates the growing fears of the Japanese due to the large number of Japanese in the islands, due to Japan's militaristic activities in the Pacific, and due to the perceived threat posed by Hawai'i's Japanese in the event of war. This dissertation specifically focuses on a series of crimes that reflected ethnic fears among white elites in the islands and among American military officials concerning Hawai'i's Japanese population: the 1889 lynching of Katsu Goto, the bombing of Juzaburo Sakamaki's home in 1920, the 1928 Jamieson murder, and the 1932 Massie rape. The two largest labor strikes in Hawai'i in 1909 and 1920 likewise involving Japanese intensified white fears and illustrated the precarious economic position occupied by white planters who depended on Japanese labor. The white power structure that dominated local politics and the American military establishment in Hawai'i shared similar interests and aligned in order to control the Japanese in the islands, first through a dual-system of justice that privileged whites at the expense of ethnic minorities and later through the full-scale institution of martial law during the war. This analysis relies in many respects on close-readings of Hawai'i's major newspapers in order to assess the media's role in the construction of a contested Japanese identity and in the establishment of an official narrative of Japanese criminality, disloyalty, and threat. Whites and Japanese frequently clashed over issues of race and power, and the divide between rulers and ruled was often contested and never clearly defined. The period prior to World War II was marked by strife and tension between these groups, culminating in martial law, internment, and ultimately repatriation.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 510-549).
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549 leaves, bound 29 cm
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