On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a massive air attack on the U.S. fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor and on other military installations in Hawaii. The surprise attack, which caused great damage and heavy casualties, precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II. Because of their strategic location, the Hawaiian Islands became the principal staging area for U.S. operations in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor functioned as a major repair base for damaged warships. Thousands of mainland civilians moved to Hawaii to work.
The war years were a tense and difficult time for islanders. Until late in the war, the territory of Hawaii was totally or partially under martial law, and its citizens’ civil liberties were curtailed. Military tribunals replaced civilian courts, and the press was heavily censored. Military officials were given the authority to control wages, working hours, and prices for goods; laborers could not travel between the islands or leave their jobs without permission.
The situation was particularly sensitive because of the more than 150,000 residents of Japanese descent. The Japanese residents were regarded with hostility and distrust by some of the local military authorities and civilians of other ethnic origins, particularly at the beginning of the war.
Hawaii residents of Japanese ancestry were not interned, as were those on the West Coast of the mainland United States; there were too many of them, and Hawaii was too remote, to make relocation practical. But nearly 1,500 Japanese residents were arrested and detained in Hawaii, and thousands more were questioned by loyalty boards.
However, no evidence of disloyalty by Japanese residents emerged, and thousands of Americans of Japanese ancestry volunteered for military service. They were initially denied admission into the U.S. armed forces, but later fought alongside Japanese Americans from the mainland in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion, becoming the most decorated regimental units in American military history.
Martial law over the islands was gradually eased, and civilian rule was restored in October 1944. After the war ended, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the military control of the islands and suspension of civil rights had been unconstitutional. "Hawaii" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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