Experts in ocean debris management gathered in Honolulu on Saturday, March 2, 2013 for a symposium to discuss the tsunami debris created as a result of the Great East Asia Earthquake in March 2011 and what is being done about the debris that is now arriving on the West Coast of the U.S. and in the Hawaiian Islands. The Symposium was sponsored by the Honolulu Festival Foundation and JTB Hawaii as part of its annual festival designed to bring various cultures around the Pacific Rim together in Hawaii to promote understanding and friendship. The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) assisted with the overall planning and acted as the symposium emcee. The symposium was timely as reports and photos of tsunami debris, some positively identified as associated with the 3/11 Tsunami, have begun to appear in various news media at this second anniversary of the tragic event.
Titled “3/11 Tsunami Debris: Japan-U.S. Collaborative Effort,” the symposium”s purpose was to inform the public about what’s being done about the tsunami debris, who’s responsible for it’s management and disposal, what the public should do about the debris if found, and what does the future hold. About 150 people gathered for this event at the Hawaii Convention Center.
Experts from the Government of Japan included Mr. Tsuyoshi Saito, former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary; Mr. Kazuhisa Ito, Cabinet Counselor, The Secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy, Cabinet Office; and Mr. Takashi Mori, Director, Office of Marine Environment, Ministry of Environment. Japan’s Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, Honorable Toyoei Shigeeda completed the Japanese representation and delivered opening remarks thanking the people of Hawaii for providing donations to Japan and for assisting directly with the relief and recovery efforts. Mr. Saito followed by stating the Japanese Government has provided $5 million to the U.S. through NOAA for cleanup and management of tsunami debris. A video message from Hawaii’s Senator Mazie Hirono, a native of Fukushima Prefecture, welcomed the panelists and guests to the symposium. U.S. representatives to the discussion panel included Ms. Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator for NOAA; Mr. Jono Blodgett, Aquatic Invasive Species Research Supervisor, Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources; Mr. Gary Gill, Deputy Director, Environmental Health Administration, Hawaii State Department of Health; and Commander Martin Smith, Marine Environmental Response Specialist, 14th District-U.S. Coast Guard. The discussion panel was moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Hornung, Associate Professor at Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies and a Japan expert.
Following each presentation, questions were fielded from the audience by the experts. After the symposium, the press was invited to remain and direct questions to the panel members.
JASH is pleased to have been a co-sponsor for this event designed to inform the public about 3/11 tsunami debris management and to promote greater understanding between the peoples U.S. and Japan. Presentations and symposium program is available at the following links: