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The Hawaiʻi County-Hatsukaichi Sister City Partnership

Japan Asia The Pacific

Establishing sister city partnerships can be a long process, with shared interests being an important factor for city government leaders. For Hawaiʻi County and Hatsukaichi, familial ties enabled the sister city partnership process to be seamless with the goal of fostering cultural and commercial relations.

On April 15, 2024, Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth and Hatsukaichi Mayor Taro Matsumoto officially signed their sister city agreement at Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. The Hawaiʻi County-Hatsukaichi sister city partnership aims to promote commercial, academic, and cultural initiatives between the two.

Mayor Roth’s visit to Japan was made possible by a Hawaiʻi County Council Resolution passed on November 15, 2023, authorizing him to formalize sister city ties with Mayor Matsumoto and Hatsukaichi.

The Hawaiʻi County-Hatsukaichi sister city partnership was a "natural extension" of the already established sister chamber partnership between the Hatsukaichi Chamber of Commerce and the Kona Kohata Chamber of Commerce, which started in 2006.

Migration and familial ties played instrumental roles in establishing the Hawaiʻi County-Hatsukaichi sister city partnership. Hawaiʻi County houses many residents, such as business and local government officials, that trace their Japanese heritage back to Hiroshima Prefecture; thus, this sister city partnership is more than just an agreement, but also a renewal of heritage, history, and culture.

Hawaiʻi County has deep relations in the Indo-Pacific region, most noticeably in Japan. Hawaiʻi County has a total of 11 Indo-Pacific sister cities, seven of which are from Japan. Oshima Island was Hawaiʻi County’s oldest sister city when it was established on February 8, 1962, while Hatsukaichi is its newest sister city.

Hawaiʻi County and Hatsukaichi share similar profiles in terms of natural beauty and culture. Both locations house United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage Sites in the Hawaiʻi Volcanes National Park and Itsukushima Shrine, a testament to the level of commitment they share when it comes to preserving mother nature and their cultural heritage.

Given the profound familial links in the relationship and the potential for long-term social, academic, agricultural, economic, and cultural benefits to both areas, it will be exciting to see where the Hawaiʻi County-Hatsukaichi sister city partnership goes from here.

John Angelo Gerard "Jag” D.O. Calbario was a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington, DC. He is a master’s graduate in international affairs with a concentration in global governance, politics, and security at the American University's School of International Service.