Obama to create national monument at Hawaii internment camp

President Obama will designate a former internment camp for Japanese-Americans in Hawaii as a national monument.

The Honouliuli Internment Camp, near Honolulu on Oahu, will be managed by the federal government in an attempt to honor and preserve the legacy of the hundreds of Japanese-American people who were forcibly kept there during World War II, the Los Angeles Times reported.


The White House told the Times that the designation, to be made Thursday, is meant to recognize “the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict.” A White House spokesman confirmed the Times’s report Wednesday.

The designation, allowed under the 1906 Antiquities Act without approval from Congress, will come 73 years to the day after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an order that authorized the imprisonment of more than 100,000 people in an attempt to protect the country after the Pearl Harbor attack. 

The Honouliuli site is privately owned, and only two buildings from the camp remain intact, likely the recreation hall and firehouse.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) welcomed the designation, saying Honouliuli represents a “dark period” in Hawaii’s history.

“This historic site will memorialize the strength and bravery of the many Japanese-Americans who faced discrimination and serve as a reminder to ourselves and future generations that we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said in a statement.

Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Hillicon Valley: Facebook tightens teen protections | FBI cautions against banning ransomware payments | Republicans probe White House-social media collaboration MORE (D-Hawaii), a Japanese-American herself, said Honouliuli serves as a reminder of a dark chapter in the country’s history.

“The president's executive action is an important step in protecting Honouliuli and the stories of those who were detained in our state and across the nation, highlighting an important but often forgotten piece of our national history,” she said in a statement.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii hopes that the monument designation would eventually lead to Honouliuli becoming a site like the Manzanar internment camp in California.

Obama, the first president born in Hawaii, has used his Antiquities Act authority to create or expand 16 national monuments during his time as president. Monuments are usually managed like national parks.