Aid Sought for Typhoon-Ravaged Sister City in Japan
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by Dave Smith
A relief drive is underway to provide aid to Hawai`i County sister city Ohshima Island, one of the areas of Japan ravaged last month by Typhoon Wipha.
When it struck Japan’s east coast on Oct. 16, Wipha’s torrential rains dumped a record-breaking 33 inches of rainfall over a 24-hour period.
The resulting flooding and mudslides destroyed nearly 300 homes and caused 32 deaths. Another nine people were missing.
Hawai`i County is joining the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawai‘i, Japanese Community Association, and Kona Japanese Civic Association in the Aloha Ohshima relief drive.
Donations to “Aloha Ohshima” will be accepted through the end of December at Bank of Hawai‘i branches statewide.
“I offer our aloha and deepest condolences to Mayor Masafumi Kawashima and the residents of Ohshima Island,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “Although the destruction caused by Typhoon Wipha is unprecedented, we know that the strength and resolve of the people of Ohshima will carry them through.”
In Japanese, Ohshima means “big island” – so county officials said it’s fitting that Ohshima Island’s only international sister city relationship is with Hawai‘i’s Big Island.
At 35 square miles with a population of 8,200, Ohshima is much smaller than Hawaii County, but it is home to waterfalls, valleys and Mt. Mihara, an active volcano.
Located 75 miles south of Tokyo, Ohshima is the largest island in the Izu group, which consists of more than a dozen islands extending south from the Izu Peninsula.
Hawai`i County’s sister-city relationship with Ohshima Island was initiated in 1962 by the Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to today’s County Council.
A monument commemorating the 30th anniversary of the sister-city relationship was erected in Lili‘uokalani Gardens in 1992 by Ohshima Mayor Nagaharu Shimizu.
A delegation from Ohshima Island visited the Big Island in October 2012 to present a 50th anniversary gift, a copper relief depicting a rainbow bridge between the two islands.