LIHUE — Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami and the Kauai delegation returned last Saturday from a nine-day goodwill mission to four cities in Japan — Iwaki, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka and Ishigaki.
The primary purpose of his visit was to explore economic-development opportunities while strengthening Kauai’s Sister City programs, engaging in discussions with other mayors, and interacting with citizens.
“This was my very first official goodwill mission overseas to visit our beloved Sister Cities of Japan,” said Kawakami.
“My goal for this trip was to strengthen and reaffirm the existing partnerships with our Sister City officials and to continue to stay connected with these cities to share our culture, education, tourism and economic opportunities,” he said.
The mayor was accompanied by a county delegation including Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa and Councilmember KipuKai Kuali‘i, Executive Protocol Officer Kaleo Carvalho, and Tourism Specialist Nalani Brun.
“I want to thank the mayor and the entire delegation for allowing me the opportunity to join them on this goodwill trip to Japan,” said Kagawa.
“A big mahalo to Mayor Kawakami, the Kauai delegation and, most especially, the many people behind the scenes who made this trip a reality,” said Kuali‘i.
“I felt a strong sense of pride and aloha from the warmth and hospitality we received from the Japanese people, and this reflects the strong affinity that the Japanese have for the people of Hawaii,” said Kuali‘i.
”The friendships and bonds reaffirmed during this trip resulted in an exchange of ideas, information and understanding that will further strengthen our Sister City relationships for many years to come.”
During their visit to Iwaki, the Kauai delegation visited with Mayor Toshio Shimizu, met with Iwaki officials at the Iwaki Chamber of Commerce, and attended the ‘Ohana Hula Festival.
While in Yamaguchi, the delegation visited Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka, Mayor Takumi Shiiki of Suo Oshima, Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda of Iwakuni, Mayor Masaaki Yonemoto of Waki, and many other officials.
On their way to Ishigaki, the delegation stopped in Fukuoka, where they met with Vice Gov. Masaru Eguchi.
The final leg of the trip was to Ishigaki, Okinawa, where the delegation commemorated the 20th Anniversary Reaffirmation Ceremony of the Ishigaki-Kauai Sister City Signing.
They also attended Ishigaki’s first Islander Summit, where Kawakami gave opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion with other guests from Bail, Sardinia and Ishigaki.
While in Yamaguchi, Kawakami met Congressman Nobuo Kishi, who represents Suo Oshima, one of Kauai’s Sister Cities. Kishi was on Kauai in August for official business and made time for a courtesy visit with Kawakami to congratulate him as the new mayor of Kauai.
Muraoka and his executive staff and six members of the Yamaguchi Assembly of Representatives will arrive on Kauai on Oct. 17 for official business and will also attend the Matsuri Kauai Festival on Oct. 18 and 19.