Hawai'i State News

Hawaiʻi-Japan Sister State & Sister City Summit held in Honolulu

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On July 27 and 28, the Hawaiʻi-Japan Sister State & Sister City Summit was convened by the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the Japan-America Society of Hawaiʻi in Honolulu with the theme of “The Ties that Bind.”

Gov. Josh Green and the mayors of the City and County of Honolulu, Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi, and the governors, mayors and designated representatives of the six prefectures, 16 cities and towns in Japan, which share respective sister and friendship relationships, participated in the Sister Summit.

Common issues were explored to further deepen and strengthen sister and friendship relationships by setting goals to increase exchanges between our governments and municipalities and sharing information on the respective exchange programs.


Hawaiʻi and Japan share a very special relationship. Hawaiʻi is geographically situated at the crossroads of Japan and the United States. The shared history began with the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi over 150 years ago, and the deep, longstanding friendship, spanned the subsequent decades and continues to be nurtured through the postwar years till today.

Some sister and friendship relationships are based on hometown associations created in Hawaiʻi by the early Japanese immigrants and their descendants. Other sister and friendship relationships started based on connections made through appreciation of things like culture, mutual passion for hula and the ukulele for example, nature and sports, as well as based on educational exchanges.

One sister relationship was initiated out of a mutual desire for world peace after experiencing the horrors of World War II, and another sister relationship was established as the result of exchanges following a very tragic and unfortunate maritime accident.


The discussions during the Sister Summit included the following four common issues faced by the respective regions and explored possibilities for further cooperation through the sister and friendship relationships:

  • Sustainable Energy
    • Discussion centered around renewable energy technologies, ideas for funding new and ongoing projects and avenues for collaboration between sister and friendship governments.
  • Education
    • The value and importance of global learning and education exchange to leadership development, as well as its contribution to Japan and Hawaiʻi relationships were explored.
  • Sustainable Tourism
    • This session explored how Japan and Hawai‘i seeks to balance the economic and social impacts of the visitor industry through sustainability practices. The session also examined how sister relationships can facilitate balanced economic and visitor industry collaboratives between and amongst states, prefectures and cities.
  • Business & Economy
    • Opportunities in cross-border commerce across various industries including building a sustainable and profitable agricultural business were the topics of discussion and the sharing of best practices and ideas.

During the group meeting among the government representatives of the State of Hawaiʻi and the six prefectures of Japan, and the group meetings among the government leaders of the counties of Hawaiʻi and the sister and friendship cities and towns in Japan, the focus was on tourism and what Japan and Hawaiʻi can do for and with each other to build a robust tourism industry for both.

In addition, exchanged information and discussed their respective exchange programs and reaffirmed their commitment to further cooperate with each other towards increasing exchanges and to possibly implement these programs on a regular basis, and to meet with their respective counterparts when visiting Hawaiʻi or Japan, as the case may be, to further strengthen their relationships.

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