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  • Hawaii State Senate Committee Passes Bill to Preserve the Honouliuli Internment Site and Preliminary Planning of a New Education Center

Honolulu - The Hawai'i State Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed S.B. 2678, a bill to support efforts to preserve the Honouliuli internment camp site and provide funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the preliminary planning of a new education center.

The bill, introduced by Senator Will Espero (D-Kunia) cleared the Committee on Economic Development and Technology and Committee of Water, Land and Housing in mid-February.

"We are extremely grateful to Senator Espero for introducing this bill and to the Senate committee members for understanding the importance and urgency of preserving of the Honouliuli internment campsite," said Carole Hayashino, president & executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i. "The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i looks forward to working with the state legislature and the community as we continue our work to preserve the Honouliuli internment site and educate the public on the World War II experience of Japanese in Hawai'i."
"The WWII internment camps in Hawai'i and the mainland U.S. are a sad and tragic legacy of the past which must not be forgotten," said Hawai'i State Senator Will Espero (D-Kunia). "This measure continues the preservation work which many individuals are involved with."

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from the entire Pacific coast. Without judicial process, 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry in California, Oregon and Washington were forcibly removed from their homes and unlawfully detained in American styled concentration camps. The only basis for this incarceration was race.

In Hawai'i, government authorities rounded up between 1,200 - 1,800 Japanese Americans in five relocation centers on the islands of Kaua'i, Maui, Hawai'i's Big Island and O'ahu. When the five centers were closed, some of the Hawai'i internees were transferred to internment sites on the continental U.S. A remaining 300 detainees were imprisoned in Honouliuli located on O'ahu.

Nearly 70 years after the opening of Honouliuli, structures and archaeological evidence still remain at the site. This site stands as a reminder of a time when fear and prejudice took precedence over constitutional and civil rights.

S.B. 2678 will provide state support towards the preservation of the Honouliuli internment campsite and will establish a mechanism to leverage county, state, federal, and private funding for an educational resource center.

In addition to Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, the bill is being supported by the Japanese American Citizens League - Honolulu Chapter, Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission, and the Historic Hawai'i Foundation. The bill will now be sent to the Senate before going to the State House of Representatives.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, a non-profit organization, strives to strengthen our diverse community by educating present and future generations in the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawai'i. Founded on May 28, 1987, the Center celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2012. The Cultural Center has more than 4,800 members and annually connects to more than 30,000 residents and visitors through its programs and events. The Cultural Center features a historical museum, an exhibition gallery, library/archive center, the Kenshikan martial arts d j , the Seik an Japanese teahouse, and a Gift Shop. For more information call (808) 945-7633.

MEDIA NOTE: A full copy of the bill is available at

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    Honoring our heritage. Embracing our dirversity. Sharing our future. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH), a non-profit organization, strives to share the history, heritage and culture of the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawai‘i.
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