POSTED: 1:50 p.m. HST, Jul 4, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 6:36 p.m. HST, Jul 4, 2011
Nearly 70 survivors of Japan's deadly earthquake and tsunami arrived in Hawaii on Monday for extended visits designed to give them a respite from the destruction and grief..
They were greeted with applause, hula dancers and leis at Honolulu International Airport by their host families, as well as Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa.
The 67 Japanese citizens included families with young children and an 11-year-old boy, Ryotaro Fujihashi, who was orphaned when a March earthquake triggered a tsunami and damaged several nuclear reactors in his native Fukushima city.
The visitors will be staying for up to three months with volunteer hosts on Oahu and Maui. Exhausted from their trans-Pacific flight, they politely declined comment upon their arrival at the airport and quickly departed.
The Aloha Initiative is being organized by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, which found hosts, sponsors and donated clothing for Japanese citizens from affected regions.
Arakawa himself donated $50,000 to the cause after he won a charity chess match with actor Owen Wilson in May.
Abercrombie reminded the assembled crowd of the strong ties between Japan and Hawaii.