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Bayonets in ParadiseMartial Law in Hawai'i during World War II$
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Harry N. Scheiber and Jane L. Scheiber

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824852887

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824852887.001.0001

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Prelude to Martial Law

Prelude to Martial Law

Security and the “Japanese Problem”

(p.9) Chapter One Prelude to Martial Law
Bayonets in Paradise

Harry N. Scheiber

Jane L. Scheiber

University of Hawai'i Press

The military government that took over the executive, legislative and judicial functions of the civilian government was the culmination of nearly two decades of planning by the War Department. As tensions grew between the United States and Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, the Army became alarmed by what it regarded as the potential threat to national security posed by the “Japanese Problem”: the nearly 40 percent of Hawai`i’s population of Japanese ancestry (Nikkei), whose loyalty was unknown. Welcomed at first as cheap plantation labor, the ethnic Japanese came to be regarded as an economic, political and security threat. Anti-Japanese sentiment was exacerbated by labor strikes, a sensational criminal trial, and the perpetuation of Japanese language schools. From the 1920s on, the Army planned to use martial law to solve the “Japanese problem” in case of war with Japan. As war became more likely, military intelligence and the FBI—believing they had nothing to fear from the vast majority of ethnic Japanese—decided on a policy of depriving the first generation Japanese immigrants (Issei) of their leadership and of “Americanizing” the second generation (Nisei), rather than trying to incarcerate or remove the Nikkei en masse.

Keywords:   Japanese Americans, Nikkei, Issei, Nisei, security, civilians, immigration, Americanization, Joseph Poindexter

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