Japan’s Minister of Defense Honorable Itsunori Onodera visited the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park in Honolulu on July 1st. Minister Onodera was in Hawaii for discussions with the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
On hand to greet Minister Onodera was Japan-America Society of Hawaii and Ehime Maru Memorial Association President Ed Hawkins. Mr. Hawkins explained the significance of the memorial and the efforts of the Hawaii community and other visitors to clean the memorial as a public service and to honor the nine lost crew of the Ehime Maru. Mr. Hawkins also discussed educational and sports exchanges set up between Hawaii and Ehime as good-will measures following the tragedy. Following the presentation of a wreath to the victims, Minister Onodera met with groups of volunteers from various organizations who clean the memorial. These included the current and incoming President of Hawaii United Japanese Society, the President of Meijikai, President of Fukushima Kenjinkai, and President and members of the Miyagi Kenjinkai. Being from the city of Kesenuma, a town devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of March, 2011, Minister Onodera was especially thankful to Miyagi Kenjinkai and JASH for taking care of the children of Miyagi who visit Hawaii under the Rainbow for Japan Kids project.