Early Days

In Hawaii, the government couldn't incarcerate the population of some 158,000 Japanese Americans. Much of the economy depended on Japanese American farmers, fishermen, everyday workers, and shop owners. While curfews were declared, mass relocation was never seriously considered. However, more than 2,000 influential Buddhist priests, political figures, and business leaders were treated as enemy aliens and sent to internment camps on the mainland. Suspicion of any person of Japanese ancestry continued, but the treatment of the Hawaiian Japanese Americans was far better than the humiliation suffered by the mainland Japanese. This shameful event is where the 100th Battalion had its origins.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Government was still unsure on the loyalty of the Japanese Americans and considered them 4Cs (Enemy Aliens). Thus, the general population of Japanese were ineligible for the draft. Delos C. Emmons (Commanding General of the Army in Hawaii) discharged all Japanese Americans from the Hawaiian Territorial Guard and disbanded the 298th and 299th regiments of the National Guard of Hawaii.

Despite this outrage, the discharged veterans of the Hawaiian Territorial Guard offered their services in whatever capacity the Army might choose to use them. These tasks usually consisted of cleaning up the grounds, building new installations, and other menial jobs that the volunteers performed with diligence, dedication, and no complaints. As a result, General Emmons reversed his decision and recommended to the War Department that the Japanese Americans should be formed into a special unit and be sent to the mainland for training.