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            (Naha, Okinawa, June 20, 2010) – Mayor Mufi Hannemann described the smart grid power transmission system to be tested in Hawaii and Okinawa as “having the potential to enable like-minded island communities to lessen our dependence on imported fossil fuels and create a path for greater sustainability in energy production and use.”


            The mayor is in Okinawa for the 50th anniversary observance of Honolulu’s sister city relationship with Naha, the capital city.  Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga will reciprocate by leading a delegation to Honolulu during the Okinawan Festival on Labor Day weekend at Kapiolani Park.  Naha is Honolulu’s 2nd oldest sister city relationship.


Mayor Hannemann made the statement during the 10th Anniversary of the Obuchi Okinawa Education and Research Program, a graduate education effort sponsored by Japan and the United States.  Hannemann had been invited to the gathering, which included East-West Center President Charles Morrison, Okinawa Governor Hiokazu Nakaima, and a number of high-ranking officials of the Japanese government.  In his remarks to the group, he spoke about the energy project and other Honolulu initiatives, such as APEC which will be held in Honolulu in 2011.  The Mayor praised the East West Center and the University of Hawaii for their efforts in providing a world-class education experience for many Okinawan citizens through the years.  He also singled out President Morrison for his work in helping to secure APEC for Honolulu.


            The energy project is part of a bilateral agreement signed June 17 by the United States and Japan to explore the feasibility of a next-generation smart grid power transmission network in Okinawa and Hawaii.  A task force was established in November following a meeting between President Barack Obama and then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.  The group will share experiences and findings in clean energy projects in Okinawa and Hawaii, including the use of renewable energy, electric vehicles, energy storage devices, and other technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and reduce imported fuel dependence.  A presentation of this important sustainability initiative was made to Mayor Hannemann in March in Honolulu.  Hannemann used this current trip to Naha to hold further discussions on this subject.


During his trip, the mayor met separately with Naha Mayor Onaga and Keisuke Saito, Director General of the Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Department of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and other officials to discuss the smart grid project.


            “The State of Hawaii and the Prefecture of Okinawa are poised to embark upon a mutually beneficial project that will reap tremendous benefits for our respective island communities for generations to come,” stated Mayor Hannemann.


Joining the Honolulu delegation for the golden anniversary celebration are Amy Hanaialii Rene Gilliom and her talented band of musicians and hula dancers, Salevaa Atisanoe, better known as Konishiki and his wife Chie, and former Miss Hawaii USA Aureana Tseu.


            In conjunction with the 50th anniversary event, the stellar Hawaii group performed to 2 sold out audiences at the Alo Hai Festival that featured halau performances by Okinawan kumu hula and dancers.  Some of the Okinawan-based halau were comprised of former Hawaii residents who now reside in Okinawa.  The hula festival concert, blending both cultures, is believed to be the first of its kind ever held in Okinawa. 


The Mayor also appeared at the sold out Uchina Kuisha show, featuring nearly 100 participants from Hawaii, led by Oahu resident, Sensei Grant Murata, who performed with a sanshin, a popular Okinawan musical instrument.


“Thanks to the outstanding presentations and performances by our Hawaii-based musicians, dancers, and entertainers, the Spirit of Aloha and the beauty of our culture is alive and well in Okinawa,” said Mayor Hannemann.  “The reaction from the Okinawan audiences to Amy Hanaialii and Konishiki were phenomenal.  Given the strong affinity that exists between the Hawaiian and Uchinanchu cultures, the positive experiences of the past few days can only translate into greater results and benefits for both cities in the future.”


Mayor Hannemann returns to Honolulu on Sunday, June 20, 2010.


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Bill Brennan, 768-6928