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Hawaii Delegation Commends Federal Investments to Preserve Hawaii’s Japanese American Confinement Sites

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation praised the Department of Interior’s award of nearly $3 million in Japanese American Confinement Site grants, including two projects in Hawaii. These grants will support projects that will preserve confinement sites across Hawaii and tell the stories of Japanese Americans who were unlawfully detained during World War II.

“For decades, the Hawaii delegation and Japanese American community have fought to preserve internment sites as memorials to acknowledge this dark chapter in our nation’s history,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “These grants are the next step in restoring and protecting the Honouliuli National Monument as well as documenting and telling these stories to our current and future generations. We must preserve these sites and stories of Japanese Americans as reminders of the importance of upholding civil rights even during our nation’s most trying times.”

“With Honouliuli’s national monument designation, we can now continue the important work of preserving the site and the dark period in our history it represents,” said Senator Brian Schatz.  “These grants will fund programs that will help share the countless stories of so many who were unjustly interned and help remind us all of the constant need to protect the freedoms and rights of every American.”

“The history of World War II and the Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps is a tragic chapter in our nation's past,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “It is important that we honor and remember those Japanese-Americans who were unnecessarily detained during World War II.  These funds will help to honor their memory and share their story, shedding light on a dark moment in American history.  We must learn from this injustice, and ensure that future generations never allow such travesties to occur again.”

“The incarceration of Japanese American citizens during World War II is a blemish on this nation’s history,” said Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01). “However, even to this day, many people remain unaware about this terrible depravation of basic rights granted by the Constitution of the United States. The funds being allocated to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and to the Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park will provide an opportunity to preserve and share this important piece of Hawaii’s history by telling of the story of all those who were wrongfully imprisoned. Through raising awareness on this issue, we can prevent a travesty like this from occurring in the future.”

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii will receive over $250,000 to fund two projects. “The Power of Place: The Archeology of Hawaii’s Internment Sites” will create a comprehensive archeological record of internment sites on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, and will also record Geographical Information System data on the Honouliuli National Monument. “Hawaii Japanese Internment: Short Documentaries on the Hawaii Counties of Kauai, Oahu, Hawaii, and Maui” will produce a series of films on the history of internment in Hawaii that will be distributed to Hawaii schools.

The Friends of Waipahu Cultural Garden Park will receive $112,000 to continue the restoration of buildings at the Honouliuli National Monument and create an exhibit outlining the restoration efforts. Honouliuli Internment Site was designated as a national monument by President Obama in February after years of hard work and collaborative efforts by Hawaii’s congressional delegation and public and private community partners.

The Japanese American Confinement Sites program was established in 2006 to fund efforts that preserve sites across the country where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II and seek to tell these difficult, yet important stories.