“American and Nothing Else”: Japanese American Dual Citizenship in Hawaii

By the early 20th century, persons of Japanese ancestry constituted the largest ethnic group in Hawaii. In response to the large population of Japanese residents and Japanese Americans in the Territory, white elites voiced strong concerns about the potential influence that these individuals would have. Fearing that Japan would take over Hawaii through the “fifth column” living on the Islands, white Americans targeted Japanese Americans who had dual citizenship status. According to Japan’s nationality laws, children born to Japanese citizens were automatically granted citizenship regardless of where they were born. Those with dual citizenship faced pressures to “Americanize” by adopting Western practices and expatriating from Japan. Japanese individuals in Hawaii faced additional pressures and limits to their rights because of its territorial status. Nonetheless, many Japanese Americans with dual citizenship status in Hawaii embraced Americanization efforts and used expatriation as a way to secure better treatment and rights.

by Maddie Shiflett

Faculty mentor: Dr. Krystyn Moon

Japanese American Dual Citizenship in Hawaii