Joint Press Release from the Sister State and Sister City Summit

Posted on Aug 2, 2023 in News, Sister Cities, Sister States
Seal of the State of Hawaii






July 31, 2023


HONOLULU – On July 27 and 28, 2023, the Hawaiʻi-Japan Sister State & Sister City Summit was convened by the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the Japan-America Society of Hawaiʻi (JASH) in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi with the theme of “The Ties that Bind”. The Governor of the State of Hawaiʻi and the Mayors of the City and County of Honolulu, Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi, and the Governors, Mayors and designated representatives of the six prefectures, 16 cities and towns in Japan, which share respective sister and friendship relationships, participated in the Sister Summit. Common issues were explored to further deepen and strengthen sister and friendship relationships by setting goals to increase exchanges between our governments and municipalities and sharing information on the respective exchange programs.

Hawaiʻi and Japan share a very special relationship. Hawaiʻi is geographically situated at the crossroads of Japan and the United States. The shared history began with the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaiʻi over 150 years ago, and the deep, longstanding friendship, spanned the subsequent decades and continues to be nurtured through the postwar years till today. Some sister and friendship relationships are based on hometown associations created in Hawaiʻi by the early Japanese immigrants and their descendants. Other sister and friendship relationships started based on connections made through appreciation of things like culture, our mutual passion for hula and the ukulele for example, nature and sports, as well as based on educational exchanges. One sister relationship was initiated out of a mutual desire for world peace after experiencing the horrors of World War II, and another sister relationship was established as the result of exchanges following a very tragic and unfortunate maritime accident.

Now that in-person exchanges have been resumed as evident by the participants at the Sister Summit, the magnitude of the significance and meaning of these actual face-to-face exchanges were reconfirmed notwithstanding efforts made during the COVID-19 pandemic to continue exchanges virtually while in-person exchanges were not possible.  With this Sister Summit, participants discussed how to work towards further developing existing relationships, while collectively encouraging new exchanges, and affirmed their commitment to work together toward this goal. 

The discussions during the Sister Summit included the following four common issues faced by the respective regions and explored possibilities for further cooperation through the sister and friendship relationships:

  1. Sustainable Energy

Discussion centered around renewable energy technologies, ideas for funding new and ongoing projects and avenues for collaboration between sister and friendship governments.

  1. Education

The value and importance of global learning and education exchange to leadership development, as well as its contribution to Japan and Hawaiʻi relationships were explored.  

  1. Sustainable Tourism

This session explored how Japan and Hawai`i seeks to balance the economic and social impacts of the visitor industry through sustainability practices.  The session also examined how sister relationships can facilitate balanced economic and visitor industry collaboratives between and amongst states, prefectures and cities.

  1. Business & Economy

Opportunities in cross-border commerce across various industries including building a sustainable and profitable agricultural business were the topics of discussion and the sharing of best practices and ideas.

During the group meeting among the government representatives of the State of Hawaiʻi and the six prefectures of Japan, and the group meetings among the government leaders of the counties of Hawaiʻi and the sister and friendship cities and towns in Japan, the focus was on tourism and what Japan and Hawaiʻi can do for and with each other to build a robust tourism industry for both. In addition, exchanged information and discussed their respective exchange programs and reaffirmed their commitment to further cooperate with each other towards increasing exchanges and to possibly implement these programs on a regular basis, and to meet with their respective counterparts when visiting Hawaiʻi or Japan, as the case may be, to further strengthen their relationships.

July 28, 2023

In Honolulu, Hawaiʻi


  1. Schedule of Events
  2. List of Participants

About the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)

DBEDT is Hawai‘i’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawai‘i economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawai‘i’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, and promotes innovation-sector job growth.

About the Business Development and Support Division (BDSD)

The Business Development and Support Division of DBEDT promotes industry development and economic diversification by supporting existing and emerging industries in Hawai‘i and by attracting new investment and businesses to the state. Learn more at:

About the Japan America Society of Hawai‘i (JASH)

JASH is one of Hawai‘i’s oldest and most established organizations which fosters economic, educational and cultural activities between Hawai‘i and Japan.  JASH is a member of the National Association of Japan-America Societies, consisting of 38 independent Japan-America societies located around the United States and Canada.  JASH is uniquely positioned to serve as the statewide convener to coordinate activities for Japan-Hawai‘i economic reopening, recovery and resiliency planning activities.

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Media Contacts:

Laci Goshi
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism 
(808) 587-9006

Dennis Ling
Business Development & Support Division Administrator
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

Sal Miwa
Japan-America Society of Hawai‘i
+1 (201) 232 0762

Reyna Kaneko                                            
Japan-America Society of Hawai‘i
(808) 524-4450