Chinen, Joyce N.
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ItemTransnational Identities, Communities, and the Experiences of Okinawan Internees and Prisoners of War(University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2014)Okinawans, people from Japan’s poorest and last to be incorporated prefecture, faced unique challenges during World War II. Regarded as racially and culturally “different” from the rest of the Japanese population, but officially categorized as “Japanese” by Americans, Okinawans in Hawai'i inhabited a social space of shifting transnational identities and experiences. Depending upon the parsing, at least two broad and different subgroups of Okinawans experienced detention and imprisonment in Hawai'i. In the first group were local Okinawans, either Issei (first generation immigrants carrying Japanese passports) or Kibei (American-born offspring of the Okinawan immigrants who had been raised in Okinawa or on the main islands of Japan); in the second group were prisoners of war (POWs or PWs) taken in the Pacific Theater or as a result of the Battle of Okinawa. Since Okinawan experiences varied noticeably from other Japanese internees and other POWs, this article explores some of the factors contributing to their detention and eventual imprisonment, and the responses of the local Okinawan community.