WASHINGTON – Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Thursday joined Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai, and Jacce Mikulanec, president of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, to present Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell with petitions from more than 6,000 Americans requesting the inclusion of Honouliuli Internment Camp in the national park system.
“The Honouliuli Internment Camp serves as a symbol of the constant need to protect the freedoms and rights of every American,” Schatz said. “I’m proud to stand with the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the thousands of Americans who support protection of this solemn site. I will continue to work with Secretary Jewell and President Obama to finally give Honouliuli the historic recognition it deserves.”
“The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii greatly appreciates Sen. Brian Schatz’s leadership in supporting the preservation of Honouliuli and Hawaii’s internment sites,” said Hayashino. “The project has truly been a grassroots effort involving many organizations and individuals. We are also grateful for the support of the other members of the Hawaii congressional delegation, Sen. Mazie Hirono, Congressmembers Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard as well as Congressmember-elect Mark Takai.”
“JACL-Honolulu is pleased that Honouliuli Internment Camp is one step closer to receiving the recognition it deserves. It is a symbol of what can happen when fear and prejudice dictate policy in our country — and why we must counter racism and prejudice in any form,” said Mikulanec. “JACL has a long history of advocating for civil rights in Hawaii and nationally. We are honored to be part of this pivotal visit and look forward to the work ahead.”
Last year, Schatz met with National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan B. Jarvis to discuss the need to complete the special resource study, which was authorized by Congress in 2009 to review the site for potential inclusion in the national park system. Following the meeting, Schatz sent Jarvis a letter to reiterate his position.
In September 2013, Jewell visited Honouliuli Gulch, where she saw remnants of the confinement site that historic documents indicate once held 175 buildings, 14 guard towers, and over 400 tents at the 160 acre camp. Jewell also met with local leaders and members of several Japanese American cultural organizations who are part of the growing chorus of voices who want to see this difficult chapter in the nation’s history preserved and interpreted for the benefit of generations to come.
In 1943, the Honouliuli Internment Camp was constructed on Oahu to intern citizens, resident aliens, and prisoners of war. The camp held approximately 320 internees and became the largest and longest-used World War II internment camp in Hawaii.
The NPS held a series of public meetings throughout Hawaii last May and June to present the draft study report, answer questions, and accept comments. Following receipt and review of public comments, a final report, including a course of action recommended by the Jewell, will be transmitted to Congress.