On November 12th, Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihiko Noda visited the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park. PM Noda was in Hawaii for the APEC Leaders’ Meeting and took the opportunity to visit the Memorial. On hand were volunteers from local Kenjinkai who clean the memorial, including Fukuoka, Fukushima, Kumamoto, Yamaguchi, and Okinawa.
Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) and Ehime Maru Memorial Association President Ed Hawkins greeted the Prime Minister and his entourage that included the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Senior Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, Japan’s Ambassador to the U.S., and Japan’s Consul General in Honolulu. Mr. Hawkins gave an overview of the Memorial and the various good-will programs put in place since that tragic event to promote friendship between the people of Hawaii and Ehime. Following the presentation of a flower wreath, PM Noda and his party observed a moment of silence in honor of those lost in the incident. Mr. Hawkins introduced the volunteers to PM Noda who thanked them for their services in maintaining the memorial and promoting friendly relations between Japan and the U.S. Mr. Hawkins called attention to three Japanese mandarin orange trees that were planted near the memorial to mark the 10th anniversary of the incident earlier this year when the bereaved family members gathered at Kakaako for a special memorial ceremony. This was the first visit of a sitting Japanese prime minister to the Ehime Maru Memorial.