Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fukuoka Japan - USA Friendship Committee's 30th Anniversary

A delegation from Fukuoka Japan was at the Capitol on Wednesday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of sister-statehood with Hawai'i. The event allowed leaders from both communities to reflect on three decades of economic and cultural cooperation as well as lay the groundwork for many more. Hawaiian Airlines resuming direct flights to Fukuoka later this year will bring the two states even closer.

Hawaii's Ambassador of Aloha, Danny Kaleikini opened the ceremony with a pule. This was special for the Chairman of the Fukuoka Prefecture Assembly, Mr. Kensai Haraguchi, whose fondest memory of Hawai'i was seeing Danny perform while spending his honeymoon in the islands 30 years ago.

The State of Hawai'i was represented by members of the House and Senate. Speaker of the House, Calvin Say, was also present for the initial partnership with Fukuoka 30 years ago and made the trip to Fukuoka in 2007 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the partnership. The meeting had personal significance for Rep. Derek Kawakami, whose family came from the Fukuoka prefecture to work in the cane fields of Kauai.

Proclamations were signed, gifts and pleasantries were exchanged, and both sides had an opportunity to talk story, reinforcing an already amicable relationship. An interpreter ensured that the goodwill - and the punchlines from jokes - were not lost in translation. Beyond the smiles and through the laughs, the event was ultimately more substance than ceremony; further bolstering a bond with a longstanding, important friend: Fukuoka, Japan.

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