February 18, 2015

HIRONO, GABBARD, TAKAI: DESIGNATING HONOULIULI INTERNMENT CAMP AS NATIONAL MONUMENT IS AN IMPORTANT STEP IN PROTECTING HONOULIULI & STORIES OF THOSE WHO WERE DETAINED

Hirono, Gabbard, Takai, Japanese Cultural Center Of Hawaii, Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League Commend President Obama’s Designation Of Honouliuli Internment Camp As National Monument

Washington, D.C. – Today Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Rep. Mark Takai commended President Barack Obama’s designation of the Honouliuli Internment Camp site in Kunia, Oahu.

“The detention of more than 1,000 innocent Hawaii civilians during World War II remains a dark chapter in Hawaii and our nation’s history. The stories of those detained at Honouliuli and internment sites like it across the country are sobering reminders of how even leaders of the greatest nation on Earth can succumb to fear and mistrust and perpetuate great injustice,” said Senator Hirono. “The President's executive action is an important step in protecting Honouliuli and the stories of those who were detained in our state and across the nation, highlighting an important but often forgotten piece of our national history. Preserving the site has long been a priority for our Hawaii delegation -- from Senators Inouye and Akaka to our current delegation. I will continue to work closely with the administration, state and local leaders as well as my delegation colleagues to ensure federal resources are delivered for this important project.”

“The designation of the Honouliuli camp as a National Monument serves as a solemn reminder that in our nation’s history bedrock civil rights have been disregarded in times of conflict as a result of unfounded fear and panic,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “Honouliuli was a central piece of the brutal and discriminatory internment system created during World War II; today, the structure remains as a memorial that will educate future generations about the precariousness of freedom in wartime. Mahalo to President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Jewell for recognizing the history of Honouliuli and for making this designation a priority.”

“The internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II is a tragic example of what happens when we allow fear and hatred to take the place of rational and just actions,” said Congressman Mark Takai. “Honouliuli will serve as a place where we will be able to educate the coming generations about the importance of civil liberties for all people. Now more than ever, we must learn from the mistakes of the past, and the designation of Honouliuli as a national monument will give Hawaii a chance to shine light on this serious issue. I would like to extend a warm mahalo to President Obama for taking the initiative to preserve this historically significant piece of land.”

Honouliuli Internment Camp’s designation as a national monument comes after years of hard work and collaborative efforts by the public and private community partners including the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, who also praised the designation.

“The designation of Honouliuli as a national monument will ensure its future preservation for generations to come.  The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i applauds President Obama for recognizing the historic significance of the Honouliuli Internment Camp.  We thank the President, Interior  Secretary Sally Jewell and our own congressional delegation for helping us protect Honouliuli as a historic site and as a place to teach the lessons of civil rights, the Constitution and U.S. democracy,” said Carole Hayashino, President and Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

“By using his power under the Antiquities Act to designate Honouliuli as a national park, President Obama honors the thousands of men and women whose civil rights were violated, and is helping to ensure that the Japanese American wartime experience will never be forgotten,” said Jacce Mikulanec, President of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye included a provision in the Interior Appropriations bill in 2009, requesting the special resource study. A stand-alone bill, (S. 871) the Honouliuli Internment Camp Special Resources Study Act of 2009, was also introduced by Senator Inouye in the 111th Congress, with then-Congresswoman Hirono introducing the companion bill (H.R. 2079) in the House of Representatives. Senator Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie were cosponsors of the respective the bills. 

The Honouliuli national monument on Oahu permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II. The monument will help tell the story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the injustices that occurred there. The Honouliuli Internment Camp was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii, eventually holding 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war.