Obama to make Japanese internment camp national monument

US President Barack Obama will on Thursday make a former Japanese internment camp in Hawaii a national monument to "ensure its stories are told for generations."

AFP| Updated: Feb 19, 2015, 02:45 AM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama will on Thursday make a former Japanese internment camp in Hawaii a national monument to "ensure its stories are told for generations."

Officials said Obama would give Honouliuli Internment Camp, near Pearl Harbor, protected status to highlight the "fragility of civil rights during times of conflict."

Honouliuli was opened in 1943 and was the largest and longest-running internment camp in Hawaii.

It held around 4,000 prisoners, who nicknamed it "Jigoku-Dani" -- or "Hell Valley."

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order that led to the forced relocation and internment of around 122,000 Japanese, most of whom were US citizens.

"This monument permanently protects a site where Japanese-American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II," said an official. 

"The monument will help tell the difficult story of the internment camp`s impact on the Japanese-American community."

The camp was largely forgotten until 2002.

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii welcomed the designation as a step toward recognizing the "leaders, teachers, journalists, religious leaders, local politicians and World War I veterans" who were detained there.

Hawaii governor David Ige said: "The monument will remind all who visit of the terrible injustice these families endured even while many of their husbands, sons and brothers were fighting for the United States."