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(Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009)—Mayor Mufi Hannemann is traveling to Japan and the Philippines to bolster relations with sister cities and foster economic growth in Honolulu through trade and travel. Hannemann will also join community volunteers in distributing humanitarian supplies to victims of recent flooding in the Philippines.


            Hawaii’s culture and economy are closely linked to our Asia Pacific neighbors, and we all benefit from our strong ties to communities in Japan and the Philippines,” Hannemann said. “Many of us also feel compelled to do what we can to assist those in need following the recent natural disasters.”


            On Nov. 3, Hannemann will meet in Naha, Okinawa with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga and Naha business leaders and tourism officials to discuss plans to commemorate next year’s 50th Anniversary of the Honolulu-Naha Sister City relationship and to encourage travel to Honolulu.


            Hannemann traveled to Naha in 2006 with more than 1,100 members of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association for the 4th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, a major gathering of people of Okinawan descent from around the globe, held every five years. Hannemann led the Hawaii delegation in the festival’s opening parade and met with many local officials and community leaders.


            Hannemann will meet in Hiroshima on Nov. 4 with Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and other city officials and will participate in several activities to commemorate this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Honolulu-Hiroshima Sister City relationship and to encourage travel and cultural exchanges. Highlights will include the dedication of a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that day, a special Honolulu Day Concert on Nov. 5, and an economic seminar hosted by the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 6.


            “It’s very important for us to continue to strengthen this important relationship with the people of Hiroshima,” Hannemann said. “Our cities have long-standing ties stretching back to the late 1800s, and we are inextricably connected through our heritage, family ties and sincere friendships. Our historic and cultural bond has been preserved through business interaction, tourism, sports, cultural and educational exchanges, and the promotion of peace.”


            Events earlier this year organized by the 50th Anniversary Honolulu-Hiroshima Sister City Committee included a photo exhibit and cultural booths at Windward Mall; a cultural performance at Ala Moana Center; a luncheon presentation at the East-West Center; and a special dinner at Waialae Country Club.


            To highlight the 50th anniversary, Hannemann held a Commemorative Signing Ceremony earlier this year in the Honolulu Hale courtyard with Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, Honolulu City Council Chairman Todd Apo, Hiroshima Council Chairman Hiroyuki Fujita and other members of each city’s legislative body, a delegation of government and community leaders from Hiroshima, and members of the 50th Anniversary Honolulu-Hiroshima Sister City Committee.


            Apo and Councilmember Gary Okino will join Hannemann and his wife Gail Mukaihata Hannemann in Hiroshima for this memorable occasion. A delegation of nearly 80 Honolulu citizens, led by committee Chairman Wayne Miyao, will also join the mayor.


            Hiroshima is an active participant in the City’s annual Honolulu Festival, sending an official delegation here every year. Hiroshima also celebrates “Honolulu Day” during November. This event promotes Honolulu in Japan and is sponsored by several prominent Hiroshima organizations, including the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Japan America Society of Hiroshima.


            Honolulu and Hiroshima have had numerous sports exchanges, primarily in baseball and softball, both for boys and girls. Another enduring and regular Honolulu-Hiroshima sister city program is the annual YMCA summer student exchange, which has continued since 1961. Honolulu high school students active in the YMCA go to Hiroshima in odd-numbered years, and Hiroshima students come to Honolulu in even-numbered years. This year, a committee member, Donald Takaki, led a girls’ softball delegation to Hiroshima.


            In 1985, the Prefecture of Hiroshima presented Honolulu with the Hiroshima Peace Bell. A bell-ringing ceremony is held each year at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission near Chinatown to mark the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Included in the ceremony is a traditional Shinto offering of fruits, vegetables, sake and rice for purification and blessing. In 2001, the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hiroshima Prefecture, and the City of Hiroshima presented to the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce a replica of the torii gate at Hiyajima, a World Heritage Site, as a symbol of our everlasting friendship. In 2002, the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce presented the torii gate to the City and County of Honolulu. This beautiful 26-foot-high structure now stands at the intersection of King and Beretania streets, in Moiliili. In 1968, a stone sculpture of a Japanese pagoda, was donated by Hiroshima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Hawaii, and is now located at the Honolulu Japanese Garden.


            Members of the 50th Anniversary Honolulu-Hiroshima Sister City Committee are: Mayor Hannemann, Honorary Chair; US Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Honorary Chair; Wayne Miyao, Chairman; and Directors Ben Fukumoto, Wayne Ishihara, Michael Leineweber, Councilman Gary Okino, Russell Okata, Kenneth Saiki, Donald Takaki, state Senator Brian Taniguchi, Jo Anne Trask, Misa Uyehara, and state Rep. Ryan Yamane.


            On Nov. 7, Hannemann will arrive in Manila, another sister city, to join a Trade Mission sponsored the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, with business development workshops sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, helping entrepreneurs from both countries develop investment ideas and learn about business opportunities. Also participating in the Trade Mission will be Councilman Nestor Garcia, state Rep. Joey Manahan and several members of Hannemann’s Senior Staff and Cabinet who are of Filipino heritage.


             Hannemann and a delegation of community leaders visited Manila and several other Philippine cities and towns in 2005 to bolster Honolulu’s links and increase trade relations. In preparation for this month’s trip, the City and Chamber held a successful and well-attended workshop in September. Special speakers and panelists at the workshop included Philippine Consul General to Hawaii Leoncio “Jun” Cardenas, University of Hawaii Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Relations Harold McArthur, Pacific Asian Management Institute Managing Director Rochelle Almanzor McArthur, President and CEO of Clearvision Outsourcing Inc. Nelda Zulueta, Hawaii Workforce Development Council Chairman Gregg Yamanaka, and Philippine Trade and Investment Center Trade Representative Archimedes Gomez.


Hannemann and volunteers will visit an emergency shelter in Manila on Nov. 8 to distribute relief supplies to flood victims, and then travel to Laoag, in Ilocos Norte province, to meet with Governor Michael Marcos Keon and municipal mayors. Laoag is also one of Honolulu’s sister cities. Governor Keon visited Honolulu Hale on June 22 to meet with Hannemann and highlight Honolulu’s strong bonds of family and friendship with the Ilocos region, the ancestral home of many of Hawaii’s Filipino immigrants and Filipino Americans.


            On Nov. 9, Hannemann will travel to Ilocos Sur province to meet with Governor DV Savellano at Port Salomague, followed by meetings in Badoc with Mayor Thomas Torralba, in Batac with Mayor Jeffrey Jubal Nalupta, in San Nicolas with Mayor Alfredo Valdez, in Pasuquin with Mayor Oscar Aguinaldo, and in Bacarra with Mayor Nicomedes Dela Cruz. As a result of his 2005 trip, Hannemann was adopted as an Illustrious and Compassionate Son of Badoc, and an Honorary Son of Bacarra.


            The following day, Hannemann will return to Manila to meet separately with US Ambassador Kristie Kenny, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, and other Philippine dignitaries, and to participate in Trade Mission meetings and a business seminar with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business groups.


            On Nov. 11, Hannemann and the Trade Mission delegation will visit Cebu City, another sister city, to reaffirm the special relationship. Cebu is the center of the Visayas region of the Philippines, ancestral home to the second largest Filipino ethnic group in Hawaii.


Hannemann will meet with Cebu Mayor Tomas Osmena and participate in a Trade Mission Conference and Business Seminar conducted by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. The following day, Hannemann will meet with Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and other officials then visit local businesses and factories.


            Mayor Hannemann will return to Honolulu on Nov. 12. The cost of the travel for the mayor and his wife to Japan will be covered by gifts from the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Honolulu Festival Foundation. City officials accompanying Mayor Hannemann in the Philippines will pay their own expenses and take vacation time for the trip’s duration. The mayor’s travel expenses to the Philippines will be paid for by the Office of Economic Development.




Media contact: Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 768-6928