“Situated in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaii is often referred to as a bridge that links Japan and the US. The Japanese have been in Hawaii since the days of the Hawaiian monarchy, starting with the kanyaku imin, first government contract laborers, joining other immigrants from Asia and the South Pacific to work in Hawaii’s plantations.
Its geographical remoteness, close proximity to Japan, its rich multi-ethnic and multicultural history spanning more than a century-and-a-half, Hawaii and the welcoming Spirit of Aloha of its people, are especially attractive to the Japanese.
Many second-generation descendants of these Japanese immigrants, or nisei, served proudly in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and other Japanese-American military units during WWII. Following the War, the Nisei integrated themselves into the local communities here, and went on to play important roles in the political and business sectors, among others.
Today, ethic Japanese and residents with partial Japanese ancestry make up 21% of Hawaii’s population and they continue to play an important role in the community. According to statistics, Japanese tourists to Hawaii totalled 1.5 million annually, prior to the pandemic, with 60% being repeat visitors.
The State of Hawaii has sister-state relationships with Okinawa, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Hokkaido, and Ehime, and shares 26 sister-city relationships throughout Japan, enhancing the bonds between Japan and Hawaii.
We also have many student exchange programs which inspire, in its participants, an appreciation for a culture and language other than their own, thereby strengthening the grassroots bonds between our two regions even further. Having struggled with the problem of over-tourism in prior years, Hawaii is exploring sustainable tourism and responsible tourism as alternatives, moving forward.
The rising popularity of telework and the advancement of IT and digital technology is making more people considered Hawaii as an attractive investment opportunity.
Clean energy is an up-and-coming industry in Hawaii. I believe Hawaii’s size is perfect for carrying out pilot projects for the latest technology, and hope that Japanese businesses in this field will take advantage of what Hawaii has to offer.
Given the many regional issues with significant global impacts, strengthening the cooperation between Japan and the US is becoming, ever more so, crucial, for the sake of our two nations, and for the global community, as a whole.
Hawaii plays a vital role, not just in the geographical or historical sense, but through its greatest asset—the countless individuals and organizations who have tirelessly dedicated themselves, and continue to dedicate themselves, to the deepening of this powerful partnership.”