Hawaii taxpayers will foot the bill, about $9,000, for Gov. David Ige to travel to Okinawa Prefecture in Japan and Guangdong Province in China between Oct. 6 and 14.
Now, some might consider this a nice vacation for our governor and ask whether it’s really necessary for our governor to travel some 5,000 miles to recognize the 30th anniversary of the sister-state relationship with Okinawa Prefecture and Guangdong Province. That’s a long way and a lot of time. The governor and first lady Dawn Amano-Ige will participate in various ceremonies and events.
The trip will also promote renewable energy cooperation, business and investment attraction; and promote educational partnerships and international student exchanges between Hawaii, Okinawa and Guangdong Province. The Iges are traveling as part of a mission led by the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Whether it’s necessary for the state’s leader to go himself is questionable. Almost all elected officials have travel budgets because it’s sometimes necessary to attend conferences, meetings and just put in an appearance on lands far, far away. In Ige’s absence, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui will serve as Acting Governor. Perhaps there are things closer to home that would require the governor’s attention.
But, the state believes, correctly, that Hawaii’s prosperity and security are intertwined with the Asia-Pacific region and it must rebalance its resources and investments toward Asia with an emphasis on economic development, energy cooperation, youth and education.
“Our presence, bolstered by a strong Hawaii delegation, serves to reaffirm our relationships with Okinawa and Guangdong with plans to further strengthen our partnership in new and innovative ways,” Ige said.
It’s well worth the time and money necessary to send the leader of our government to strengthen Hawaii’s relationship with the Asia-Pacific region. It is vital to the Aloha State economically, politically and culturally, and will become even more so, not less, in the years ahead. Ige is the right man for this mission.