Two special screenings of “The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i” will be presented at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at the Hawaii Japanese Center (HJC) at 751 Kanoelehua Ave. in Hilo.
The film by Pahoa native Ryan Kawamoto is the first full-length documentary chronicling the World War II Hawaii internment story.
“The highly anticipated Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH) film made its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival in October 2012. JCCH presented a total of five sold-out showings in Honolulu and will be traveling the film to Hilo to play at the HJC,” said Denise Tagomori Park, a spokeswoman for the JCCH, which is headquartered in Honolulu.
Tickets are $8 each and available for purchase at the Book Gallery at 259 Keawe St. and at KTA Super Stores-Puainako. The film was produced by the Honolulu nonprofit cultural organization and directed by Kawamoto.
“While the story of mass internment of Japanese Americans in California, Oregon and Washington has been well documented, very little is known about the internees and confinement sites in Hawaii,” said Park.
“Shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii authorities arrested several hundred local Japanese on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai. Within 48 hours, those arrested included Buddhist priests, Japanese language school officials, newspaper editors, business and community leaders.
“In total, over 2,000 men and women of Japanese ancestry were arrested, detained and interned in Hawaii. There was no evidence of espionage or sabotage and no charges were ever filed against them,” said Park.
This film chronicles their story through oral histories, documents, interviews and reenactments.
“The JCCH is extremely pleased to bring the first hour-long documentary, (‘The Untold Story’) to Hilo. While people have heard of places like Manzanar and Tule Lake, the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated on the mainland, few people are familiar with places like Honouliuli, Kalaheo Stockade, or that Japanese Americans were held at the Kilauea Military Camp during World War II,” said Carole Hayashino, president and executive director of the JCCH.
“Our film … helps to ensure that the experience of over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii who were picked up and imprisoned simply because of their ancestry is not forgotten. The legacy of the Japanese American incarceration in Hawaii is significant to our state and nation. It is an important and unique chapter in American history, Hawaii’s history and in the history of Japanese Americans in Hawaii,” said Hayashino.
There also will be a panel discussion and question-and-answer session with the director and executive producers of the film. For more information on the film, call JCCH at (808) 945-7633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The film’s sponsors include the following: Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, National Park Service, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, Island Insurance Foundation, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the Japanese American Citizens League-Honolulu Chapter.
This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service.
The JCCH strives “to strengthen our diverse community by educating present and future generations in the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawaii.” Founded on May 28, 1987, the center celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2012. The center has more than 4,600 members and annually connects to more than 50,000 residents and visitors through its programs and events.
The center features an historical museum, an exhibition gallery, library/archive center, the Kenshikan martial arts dojo, the Seikoan Japanese teahouse and a gift shop at 2454 South Beretania St. Visit www.jcch.com.