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Building bridges between Japan, Hawai‘i

Posted on Oct 3, 2022 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main

The Iges exchange books with Hiroshima Governor Yuzaki and Superintendent Hirakawa at the library presentation.

The Iges with the governor’s cousin (holding sign) and delegation members at the Museum of Japanese Emigration to Hawai‘i.

Governor Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige traveled to Japan last month for sister-state missions in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures. Besides signing the first sister-state agreement with Yamaguchi, the trip also marked the 25th anniversary of a similar, long-standing agreement with Hiroshima. The goodwill mission included a surprise visit in Suo-Oshima with a cousin the governor had never met. Gov. Ige even had a chance to demonstrate his own baseball cred when he threw out the first pitch — a strike — in a Hiroshima CARPS baseball game. The goal was to promote greater cultural understanding and advance programs, including tourism, benefitting both Japan and Hawai‘i. “The longer I serve, the more I recognize how important these relationships are,” the governor said. “The U.S.-Japan relationship is the most important one we have for peace in the Pacific and in the world.”


Governor Ige performs with ‘ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Hiroshima- Hawai‘i sister-state relationship.

The Iges also established a sister-library relationship — the first in Hawai‘i’s history — between the Hawai‘i State Public Library System and the Hiroshima Prefectural Library in Japan. “After we developed the ‘Ohana Readers program on some of the neighbor islands, I thought about what we could do to share our local stories beyond our shores,” said Mrs. Ige. “The sister- library relationship allows us to share our culture through authentic books written by our local authors. And the librarians in Japan will share their books as well.” Nearly 4,000 people came from the Suo-Oshima area to Hawai‘i during the Meiji era to work on the plantations. Some returned to Japan while others, like Governor Ige’s grandparents, stayed in the islands to build new lives. The governor continued, “Hawai‘i’s role is very important because it’s more than just a business relationship. These sister-state relationships are about building personal and international bridges. Some see Europe as the power center, but the reality is Asia is strategically important to the world.”



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