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Japan’s consul grateful for outpouring of aloha

The country’s top isle official addresses a rare joint legislative session

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 2:06 a.m. HST, Apr 27, 2011

Japan’s consul general in Honolulu received a standing ovation yesterday as he addressed a rare joint session of the Hawaii Legislature to offer his “deepest appreciation” for the sympathy and support Japan received from Hawaii following the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

“By holding a rare joint session … we publicly display Hawaii’s profound sympathy and support for Japan and its people,” House Speaker Calvin Say told the packed House chamber, which included Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

Yoshihiko Kamo, consul general of Japan in Honolulu, told lawmakers, “I would like to express my deepest appreciation for the sympathy and support that the people of Hawaii so generously accorded to us. I am very pleased to say that your thoughts and prayers have much encouraged us and reminded us how lucky and privileged we are to be bonded with the people of Hawaii.”

Most of Kamo’s 20-minute address centered on remarks from Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan that offered gratitude for the international support Japan received, especially from the United States.

“The Japanese people deeply appreciate the ‘kizuna’ — a Japanese word for ‘bonds of friendship’ — that has been shown to us by friends around the world,” Kamo quoted Kan. “Through this hardship we have also come to truly understand the meaning of ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed.’ … From an early stage in the response efforts, U.S. forces have diligently performed relief activities on multiple fronts as a part of Operation Tomodachi — named after the Japanese word for friendship. The cordial attitude that Americans have demonstrated toward us under this operation has deeply touched the hearts and minds of the Japanese.”

The Japanese prime minister, through Kamo, pledged to determine the cause of the subsequent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and share “the lessons learned”with the rest of the world to prevent future accidents.

Later, Kamo told reporters that Japan’s lack of natural resources means it will still need nuclear technology — while also trying to develop safer energy alternatives.

Hawaii could benefit as other nations search for alternatives to nuclear power, Kamo said.

“Hawaii’s, of course, very rich in alternative, renewable energy sources, including solar, wind power, photovoltaic and some more innovative ways, like waves, geothermal heat, etc.,” Kamo said. “This place could be a great showcase for these very innovative experimentalists to try their new technology. The Hawaii islands will be very successful in enticing these experimentation from all over the world, including Japan.”

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