Cane Fires

Cane Fires: The Anti-Japanese Movement in Hawaii, 1865-1945

Gary Y. Okihiro
Copyright Date: 1991
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 360
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    Cane Fires
    Book Description:

    Outstanding Book in History and Social Science Award, Association for Asian American Studies, 1992 "Okihiro's account is an important corrective to our understanding of the Japanese American Experience in World War II." --The Hawaiian Journal of History Challenging the prevailing view of Hawaii as a mythical "racial paradise," Gary Okihiro presents this history of a systematic anti-Japanese movement in the islands from the time migrant workers were brought to the sugar cane fields until the end of World War II. He demonstrates that the racial discrimination against Japanese Americans that occurred on the West Coast during the second World War closely paralleled the less familiar oppression of Hawaii's Japanese, which evolved from the production needs of the sugar planters to the military's concern over the "menace of alien domination." Okihiro convincingly argues that those concerns motivated the consolidation of the plantation owners, the Territorial government, and the U.S. military-Hawaii's elite-into a single force that propelled the anti-Japanese movement, while the military devised secret plans for martial law and the removal and detention of Japanese Americans in Hawaii two decades before World War II. Excerpt Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf). Reviews "Scholars of American race relations will want to read this book. So will anyone interested in Hawaii's history or in the experiences of Japanese or Asian Americans. It will go far in putting to rest any residual notion that the WWII experiences of the Japanese Americans represented 'aberration' or 'hysterical' reaction to wartime exigencies." --Franklin S. Odo, University of Hawaii at Manoa "A well-researched and well-written treatment of the subject." --Library Journal Contents Illustrations Preface Part I: Years of Migrant Labor, 1986-1909 1. So Much Charity, So Little Democracy 2. Hole Hole Bushi 3. With the Force of Wildfire Part II: Years of Dependency, 1910-1940 4. Cane Fires 5. In the National Defense 6. Race War 7. Extinguishing the Dawn 8. Dark Designs Part III: World War II, 1941-1945 9. Into the Cold Night Rain 10. Bivouac Song 11. In Morning Sunlight Notes Index About the Author(s) Gary Y. Okihiro is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0704-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
  4. Part I. Years of Migrant Labor, 1865–1909
    • Chapter 1 So Much Charity, So Little Democracy
      (pp. 3-18)

      Sugarcane was introduced to Hawaii by the original caretakers of the land and, like taro and sweet potatoes, was cultivated in family gardens primarily for the benefit of the producers. The family or kin group (‘ohana) was physically and psychically identified with the land (‘aina), as shown in the etymologies of both words.‘Ghana, derived from‘oha, the bud or sprout of the taro plant whose roots provided poi, the staple food, connotes an agricultural people.‘Ainacomes from‘ai, “to feed,” and indicates that the homeland sustained not only the group’s bodily needs but its psychic needs as well,...

    • Chapter 2 Hole Hole Bushi
      (pp. 19-40)

      West to Japan they went, these merchants of labor, seeking the strong and supple for Hawaii’s sugar plantations. “We are in much need of them,” implored Robert Crichton Wyllie, Hawaiian foreign minister and master of Princeville plantation on the island of Kauai. “I myself could take 500 for my own estates.” Wyllie’s letter, dated March 10, 1865, began the process that brought the Japanese to Hawaii. “Could any good agricultural laborers be obtained from Japan or its dependencies, to serve like the Chinese, under a contract for 6 or 8 years?” he asked Eugene M. Van Reed, an American businessman...

    • Chapter 3 With the Force of Wildfire
      (pp. 41-62)

      Japanese resistance to oppression on Hawaii’s plantations was recurrent, took a variety of forms, and sought the betterment both of individuals and the group. Women who ran away from abusive husbands were examples of individual acts of resistance. Protests at the point of production—breaking or losing tools, feigning illness, working at a slow pace, and running away—were acts of resistance in the workplace, whether or not the actors perceived them as such. Attacks on cruellunasand plantation police, and arson in sugar mills and cane fields, were other worker responses to expropriation and oppression.¹ Collective action by...

  5. Part II. Years of Dependency, 1910–1940
    • Chapter 4 Cane Fires
      (pp. 65-81)

      World War I and America’s entry in the war led to rapidly rising sugar prices and soaring costs of goods and labor. Bonuses paid to plantation workers, instituted as a result of the 1909 strike, were pegged to the price of sugar. As an indication of the rapid rate of inflation, in 1914, bonuses paid to workers amounted to 5 percent of their earnings; a year later, bonuses rose to 20 percent. In 1917, as the price of sugar climbed to a new high, the planters, fearing that inflated bonuses would permanently raise the earning expectations of workers, arbitrarily reduced...

    • Chapter 5 In the National Defense
      (pp. 82-101)

      Racism gained a national hearing in the U.S. Congress, in the executive branch, and among the American public through an orchestrated campaign by Hawaii’s planters and the territorial government. They merged race with national security for the purpose of displacing Japanese plantation laborers with Chinese migrants.

      On April 20, 1921, at the suggestion of a new hspa president, E. Faxon Bishop, a special message was sent to the territorial legislature. After several days of meetings with Hawaii’s delegate to Congress, Jonah Kalanianaole; the president of the territorial Senate, Charles F. Chillingworth; House Speaker H. L. Holstein; Attorney General Harry Irwin;...

    • Chapter 6 Race War
      (pp. 102-128)

      Situated in the Pacific Basin, Hawaii was a conduit for America’s Pacific trade and a military outpost designed to protect and advance U.S. interests. The territory’s position determined the roles of the navy and army in the islands: the navy kept open the Pacific sea lanes, while the army defended Hawaiian soil—especially the island of Oahu and its naval base at Pearl Harbor—against both foreign and domestic enemies.

      Around the time of World War I, military intelligence in Hawaii, like its mainland counterpart, was concerned about the activities of aliens, radicals, and communists. In fact, it seemed that...

    • Chapter 7 Extinguishing the Dawn
      (pp. 129-162)

      Some called it the “spectre of alien domination”; others, “peaceful penetration”; still others, the “second generation problem.” Whatever the designation, the problem in Hawaii during the 1920s and 1930s was the durable Japanese presence and determination to share in the promise of America.

      The problem was particularly pressing because the Japanese constituted a significant proportion of the population, 42.7 percent in 1920 and 37.9 percent in 1930.¹ In addition, the generation born with the rights of U.S. citizenship posed a greater problem than their alien parents did because they could, through constitutional means, eventually control the political life of the...

    • Illustrations
      (pp. None)
    • Chapter 8 Dark Designs
      (pp. 163-192)

      During the 1930s, military and civilian intelligence and the army’s War Plans Division intensified activities to counter the “Japanese menace.” Much of the work involved refining plans laid in the 1920s, especially regarding martial law and what was to be done during the period immediately preceding a formal declaration of hostilities. Hawaii became more closely integrated into a global defensive scheme that began with the U.S. mainland and extended to its outlying territories and possessions, and army headquarters in Washington played an increasingly active role in the Hawaiian Department’s local defense plans.

      On April 14, 1931, wpd requested a second...

  6. Part III. World War II, 1941–1945
    • Chapter 9 Into the Cold Night Rain
      (pp. 195-224)

      Years before bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii geared for war. The “Gibraltar of the Pacific” had to be made impregnable against enemies both within and without. The Army Service Command, established in 1935, tied “civil control forces” to the military in a close partnership to prevent sabotage and local uprisings, arguing the need for a total effort because of Hawaii’s isolated location in mid Pacific but also because over one-third of its people were Japanese.

      The cooperation of the sugar planters was critical to the success of the army’s defense plans. Representatives of the Service Command spoke at the...

    • Chapter 10 Bivouac Song
      (pp. 225-252)

      The Office of Military Governor ruled from Iolani Palace, the last seat of an independent Hawaiian monarchy, where former Judge Advocate Green acted as executive officer for Short, the military governor. Martial law enabled strict “control of the civilian population” through sweeping general orders emanating from the palace that were interpreted by military tribunals and imposed by the military police and civil enforcement agencies. Civilian control was punitive in that every general order carried criminal sanctions, and the structure of the military government resembled an army of occupation.¹ Because its purpose was to contain a specific segment of Hawaii’s people,...

    • Chapter 11 In Morning Sunlight
      (pp. 253-276)

      Two ships left Honolulu harbor during the early months of the war: theUlysses Grant, departing on February 20, 1942, with 172 Japaneseisseiandnisei“troublemakers”; and theMaui, setting sail on June 5, 1942, with 1,432niseimen of the Provisional Battalion. Although both ships headed for America, theUlysses Grantdischarged its hold at Angel Island on the north side of San Francisco Bay. (During World War II, Angel Island served as a prisoner-of-war camp; in an earlier period, the island had confined Asian migrants seeking Gold Mountain.)¹ TheMauiunloaded its store, as if embarrassed by...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 277-322)
  8. Index
    (pp. 323-330)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 331-331)