Janet Matsumoto
A Different View

December 7, 1941

Fearful of imminent war between the United States and Japan, the family providing room and board to Janet leaves for the mainland U.S. on December 5, 1941. The family asks Janet to remain at the house.

Two days later, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor.

Schools close and remain unopened until February 1942.

Janet and her sister, both students in Honolulu, return to Molokai.

December 5, [1941], [the family I worked for] were going to the Mainland, so the man used to ask me, gee, if Japan and America get into a war, what would I do?

I said, “I would go back to Molokai.”

When you’re young, you don’t even think about oh, there’s going to be a war. But I guess he reads the paper and all that, so he was kind of concerned. Anyway, he said December 5, they were going to the Mainland and they went on the Lurline. They told me that, “I want you to stay here,” and they’re going to have a house sitter for six months.

After they leave — the man was going to come there, and then they asked me to stay there and help, do what I was doing.

If by April of next year, if there’s no war, then they’ll come back. And can you imagine? They sailed on December 5 and December 7, the war started, yeah.

Pearl Harbor attack: USS Arizona

So after that, I don’t know what happened to them but I quit. I quit and I went back to Molokai. I didn’t want to stay there.

My sister — she came out for school, too, and she was staying at my aunty’s house. So she and I decided as soon as the plane was able to fly, we went back to Molokai. Because the schools all closed when the war started. And then we went back home.


After December [1941], we didn’t have any school until the following year, February [1942]. By then, we came out to Honolulu and we were staying at my father’s friend’s house. From there, I used to go to school. They used to live up by School Street, so every morning I used to catch the bus and go down. So I finished my senior year.

Janet Matsumoto's interview reprinted courtesy of the Center for Oral History. Photographs courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Digital Archives.

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