Reception Celebrating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Visit to Hawaii

Posted on Dec 28, 2016 in Main

Remarks of Governor David Ige as prepared

December 26, 2016 – Hawaiʻi Convention Center

On behalf of the people of Hawaiʻi, welcome Prime Minister Abe. We are deeply honored that you have chosen to visit Hawaiʻi.
While I enjoyed talking with you in Washington, D.C. and last year when we visited Tokyo, it was even better to spend time with you today as we traveled around Honolulu.

Prime Minister, if you remember we talked about pineapples on my visit with you in Tokyo, and that’s why our gift is an ukulele in the shape of a pineapple. I had shared with the PM that my first job was working at the pineapple cannery where we made the holes in the pineapple, and that was my first professional job as a pineapple trimmer.

The people of Hawaiʻi share my excitement about your historic visit and the opportunity to meet you and hear you speak this evening.
Many of Hawaiʻi’s residents trace their ancestry back to Japan. My own grandparents immigrated from Japan to Hawaiʻi 100 years ago in search of a better life. My mother’s family came from Oshima Island in Yamaguchi Prefecture. And my father’s family came from Okinawa, Nishihara, and I have relatives still living there today.

The relationship between Hawaiʻi and Japan goes beyond business. It goes beyond friendship. We are family.
75 years ago, our countries were at war. Tomorrow, you and President Obama will visit Pearl Harbor. While you will honor the past, the message we will all take away is one of reconciliation and partnership between our two nations.
It is clear proof of how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. Most importantly, it shows that we are committed to finding a better way forward for the future.

I believe that my father, who fought with the 442nd in Europe, would be proud to see the reconciliation and partnership that has developed between the United States and Japan.

Anyone who has experienced the horrors of war understands why there should be a better way to settle differences.
If two countries that were enemies during the war can become such strong allies 75 years later, that demonstrates what can happen when we are committed to peace and reconciliation.

We’ve become used to – those of us living in Hawaiʻi – to the president vacationing here, but to have both of you here together is a very, very special occasion for the people of Hawaiʻi.

We thank you for coming to Hawaiʻi in the name of peace.

Mahalo and aloha.