A comparison of the mainland policy of removal and relocation of the Japanese ethnic population on the West Coast with the Army’s martial law policy in Hawai`i indicates significant basic differences. The pressure against the Nikkei population associated with popular hysteria, civilian leaders’ racist demands, and fabricated reports of sabotage was important in leading to removal and relocation on the mainland; there was only minimal pressure on the Army from any of those sources in Hawai`i. Still, an element of racism in both policy and administration was present under martial law; civilian political leadership failed to uphold constitutional rights, reflexively accepting Army claims of “military necessity”; and Governor Poindexter’s surrender of the entire government to the Army was at the root of the subsequent problems of division of powers. Critics of martial law advocated reform from a principled commitment to constitutional rights, especially regarding the power of judicial review by federal courts over Army policies and procedures. The record of Army rule and military courts in Hawai`i’s war years indicates the perils of an arbitrary and non-transparent regime that seizes on racial prejudice and wartime security needs to curtail basic rights.
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