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Japan wants to reciprocate the Aloha

By Yoshihiko Kamo

LAST UPDATED: 01:45 a.m. HST, Mar 11, 2012

On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck Japan. It left nearly 20,000 people killed or missing, and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. The ensuing nuclear disaster in Fukushima compounded the tragedy.

After the disaster, Japan received a lot of assistance and words of encouragement from all over the world. Of all of those who reached out offering assistance, the United States was the first in line and touched our hearts the deepest. Operation Tomodachi, commanded by Adm. Patrick Walsh of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, showed us the U.S. military's far-reaching capabilities in a mission that exemplified the U.S.-Japan Alliance. U.S. nuclear experts helped their Japanese counterparts tame the troubled nuclear reactors.

Of all the U.S. states that sent Japan support and goodwill, Hawaii was exceptional. We deeply appreciate the kindness and generosity originating from Hawaii. The people of Hawaii responded resoundingly to the statewide fundraising campaign "Aloha for Japan" under the leadership of Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz, which raised millions of dollars for the disaster victims. Hawaii also sought to give encouragement to the displaced Tohoku citizens and youths by inviting them to Hawaii for healing and revitalization through grassroots programs such as the "Aloha Initiative" and "Rainbow for Japan Kids."

How is Japan now, one year later?

Japan is doing well and normalcy has returned to most of the country except for certain stricken areas in Tohoku. The positive momentum in reconstruction efforts continues there and, though the tasks before us are challenging, we are committed to rebuilding Japan. In fact, $260 billion has already been allocated for that purpose in this fiscal year and the FY2012 budget includes many initiatives for reconstruction to follow. Apart from the tremendous burden caused by the disaster, Japan faces daunting challenges pertaining to a mature economy. She is, however, determined to demonstrate to the world a new growth model and become a front runner in solving global issues such as disaster management, an aging society, a declining birth rate and environmental problems. It is our hope that we turn this adversity into a transformational opportunity. We have confidence in our ability to execute this once our vision takes form and our budget gets prepared.

But what about the nuclear issues? Safety continues to be a top priority. Japan has made substantial progress in addressing the situation — having brought the plant to a state of cold shutdown — and is following a concrete plan toward decommissioning. Initiatives to thoroughly decontaminate living spaces to ensure the health of all community members and restore confidence in the safety of the food, are underway. Energy is another vital issue. Nuclear energy accounted for nearly 30 percent of the power supply in Japan prior to the accident. Now almost all our nuclear power plants are out of operation for safety checks. We are now reviewing our energy mix to pursue the optimum balance that ensures a safe, cost-effective, sustainable and stable supply of energy.

The drifting debris issue continues to loom in Hawaii. This is a legitimate concern for anyone in the Pacific. U.S. and Japanese experts met this February in Honolulu to exchange views and data to effectively solve the problem. The efforts will continue.

By the way, is anyone up to visiting Japan? She is now ready to welcome visitors from abroad with her natural beauty, impeccable service, cultural, culinary and shopping delights, let alone the local hula shows at Fukushima-based Spa Resort Hawaiians, which has recently fully reopened. We are eager to reciprocate the hospitality we received from Hawaii.

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Toneyuki wrote:
God bless the victims of that horrible disaster. The actual time was 2:46pm or last night at 7:46 Hawaii time.
on March 11,2012 | 01:38AM
Grimbold wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on March 11,2012 | 06:02AM
honolulugal wrote:
Boldly Grim is the right name for you. LOL What a grump. My friends on the mainland love these islands. They reported nothing but the friendliest people, even on our highways. I quote: "I love your State."
on March 11,2012 | 09:13AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Japan wants to return the favor by buying up the best properties in Hawaii, capitalizing on a weak US dollar. (See the other StarAd story.) Thanks, a lot. Oh yeah, please ask Mr. Kawamoto to get rid of the statue garden and go back home. Arigato.
on March 11,2012 | 08:58AM
honolulugal wrote:
I just hope that most potential visitors to Hawaii don't read the comments on SA, because they will get a skewed idea of what the people here are really like.
on March 11,2012 | 09:15AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Oh yeah, one more thing. That huge mass of debris coming our way across the Pacific.....will Japan "reciprocate" the aloha by cleaning up that mess so it doesn't pollute Hawaii? Onegaishimasu.
on March 11,2012 | 09:00AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Amazing. On the anniversary of a huge NATURAL disaster, there are people that will actual show their hate towards the victims.
on March 11,2012 | 02:10PM
Peacenik wrote:
Their sponsoring the Honolulu and Pan-Pacific Festivals promoting friendship and culture exchange, show a loving nation different from the pre-WW2 years. We should respond with gratitude and willingness to be true friends.
on March 11,2012 | 05:12PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I refer of course to the conspiracy of the Japan government and the electric utility TEPCO to operate a improperly protected nuclear plant, hide the condition of the facility from the world and then mislead the world as to the criticality of the event. Meanwhile huge swaths of the ocean are covered with dangerous waste and I'm simply wondering when, if ever, these nice people will step up and start cleaning up the mess. I don't want the shores of Hawaii covered with mounds of hazardous debris killing sea life, endangering our population and diminishing our property values. That's a reasonable position. The Japanese people didn't cause the disaster but their government contributed to it and I want to know when they plan to step up and protect Hawaii.
on March 11,2012 | 05:41PM
Toneyuki wrote:
The amount of "nuclear contaminated" mounds of hazardous debris that will wash up on Hawaii shores is exactly ZERO. What will wash up on Hawaiian shores is the debris from peoples lives that were so tragically ended or changed 1 year ago. Your hatred and ignorance is astounding.
on March 11,2012 | 08:55PM