Mayor Kenoi and Mayor Akutsu Sign New Sister City Pact

Media Release:

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Mayor Sadaji Akutsu of Shibukawa , Japan, reaffirmed a sister-city relationship between Shibukawa and the County of Hawaii in a ceremony in Hilo on Jan. 14, 2011.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Mayor Sadaji Akutsu of Shibukawa , Japan, reaffirmed a sister-city relationship between Shibukawa and the County of Hawaii in a ceremony in Hilo on Jan. 14, 2011

The sister-city relationship was established in 1997 to promote friendship and good will between the peoples of Ikaho-Machi and the County of Hawaii . In 2006, Ikaho-Machi, along with the villages of Komochi, Onogami, Akagi and Kitatachibana, were merged into the expanded City of Shibukawa .

Sister cities share in the coordination and planning of official visits, and promote the exchange of cultural, trade, agricultural, scientific and educational opportunities. The people of Shibukawa and the Island of Hawaii have enjoyed an active and productive Sister City relationship since 1997.

Mayor Kenoi said the reaffirmation will “continue the meaningful interaction that has characterized the relationship for well over a decade. In addition to the reciprocal benefits enjoyed by our two communities, we share a larger, international benefit in setting an example of friendship and good will for the world to see and emulate.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi, left, shakes hands with Mayor Sadaji Akutsu of Shibukawa, Japan

Mayors Kenoi and Mayor Akutusu also committed to develop a stronger economic relationship between the Sister Cities.“Mayor Akutsu and I held economic discussions over two nights, agreeing to joint tourism and agricultural promotions and to have our chambers of commerce explore new opportunities over the next year,” Mayor Kenoi said. “These times require more than just goodwill. We need to promote positive economic relations that benefit both sides.”

Ikaho, now part of Shibukawa, is home to the world’s largest hula festival with more than 4,000 participants. In 2002, organizers of the festival obtained permission from the late Dottie Thompson, former director the Hilo ’s Merrie Monarch Festival, to name the Japanese festival in honor of Hawaii ’s Merrie Monarch King David Kalakaua.

Since then, representatives of the “Ikaho Hawaiian Festival, King Kalakaua, the Merrie Monarch,” attend the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo each year and invite the winning halau to perform at their Ikaho festival the following August.

Ikaho is about 3 ½ miles by bus from Tokyo ’s Narita Airport and is well-known as a hot spa resort area that attracts many visitors, including members of the Japanese Royal Family.

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