For years, it had been common knowledge that Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. But what about in Hawai‘i, where those of Japanese descent made a significant portion of the population? Until recently, theirs had been an untold story.
“The Empty Chair” (2014, 72 min.) by Greg Chaney is a unique documentary about how Japanese Americans from Juneau, Alaska were sent to prison camps during WWII and how the small Alaskan community stood in quiet defiance against the immoral incarceration of American citizens. In 1942 John Tanaka was going to be the valedictorian of his high school graduating class but was scheduled to be incarcerated in an American concentration camp before the ceremony. When the official graduation ceremony was held, they set aside an empty chair on the platform to acknowledge his absence.
“Voices Behind Barbed Wire: Stories of Hawai‘i Island” (2018, 25 min.) by Ryan Kawamoto. The personal stories of the Hawai‘i Island Japanese Americans from their initial imprisonment at Kilauea Military Camp, transfer & interrogation at Sand Island, and their incarceration in far away places like New Mexico, Arkansas and Arizona.
“The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i” (2012, 57 min.) by Ryan Kawamoto. Within 48 hours of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i authorities arrested several hundred local Japanese in O’ahu, Maui, Hawai’i and Kaua’i. They were Buddhist priests, Japanese language school officials, newspaper editors, business, and community leaders. Within a few months more than 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained and incarcerated at 13 different confinement sites in Hawai’i and later sent to the Department of Justice and War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps on the continental U.S.