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(Wednesday, June16, 2010) -- Mayor Mufi Hannemann travels today to Okinawa to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sister City relations with the capital of Naha and to foster business relations.


Joining the mayor are members of the Honolulu-Naha 50th Anniversary Sister City Committee, led by co-chairmen Isaac Hokama and Gary Mijo.


            Honolulu and Naha have a special bond that began 110 years ago when the first Okinawan immigrants arrived in Hawaii,” Hannemann said.  Hawaii hosts the largest population of Okinawans in the world outside of Okinawa.  At this September’s Okinawan Festival, we expect more than 50,000 participants from Hawaii and overseas.  Our ties are strong and we’ll use this milestone as a catalyst to continue building on a very meaningful and productive relationship.”


            As part of the golden anniversary commemoration, the first-ever Honolulu–Naha Hula Festival will be held at the Naha City Performance Hall and Kariyushi Marriott Hotel.  Shows are sold out and will include performances by Amy Hanaialii, Yasokichi Konishiki, and 2009 Miss Hawaii Aureana Tseu.


            In November 2009, Hannemann traveled to Naha to start the planning for the celebration.  He met with Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, and Naha business leaders and tourism officials to discuss the plans and encourage travel to Honolulu.  A reciprocal visit to Honolulu by a Naha delegation is expected this September in conjunction with the Okinawan Festival.


            Hannemann also 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, spoke at the opening ceremony, and met with many local officials and community leaders.  During the visit, the Naha City Council named Hannemann a Naha Honorary Citizen of International Goodwill.


            On this trip, Mayor Hannemann will meet with Paul Yonamine, general manager of Sector Sales for IBM Japan, and representatives of the Okinawan Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry to discuss a Smart Grid demonstration project in Hawaii and Okinawa.


An agreement reached between Prime Minister Hatoyama and President Obama in November 2009 to cooperate on clean energy technology stipulated that a task force be formed to share experiences and findings on clean energy projects in Okinawa and Hawaii, and to explore opportunities for joint efforts. The energy initiatives will address the effective and efficient use of renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, etc.) and incorporate other state-of-the-art technologies involving electric vehicles and advanced energy storage devices.  The first meeting of the task force took place in Hawaii this past March.


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Bill Brennan, 768-6928