The County of Maui commemorated the 15thanniversary of its Sister City relationship and lasting friendship with the people of Fukuyama City, Hiroshima, Japan when Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen traveled there to meet with city dignitaries.
He also joined in the Rose Parade at the 56thannual Fukuyama Rose Festival, which was held for the first time in four years at Bara Koen or Rose Park, according to a county news release.
At a welcome luncheon for the festival, Fukuyama City Mayor Naoki Edahiro described how residents planted 1,000 roses with their own hands in their gardens and small flower beds along the streets to recover from the devastation of the post-war era. Now, with over 400 rose beds throughout the city, Fukuyama is known as the City of a Million Roses. “Truly, the rose has become a symbol of peace and recovery for Fukuyama,” Mayor Edahiro said.
Mayor Bissen played the ʻukulele and sang “Haleakalā” while First Lady Isabella Kaʻihikapulani Eleneki Bissen danced the hula, and then Mayor Bissen performed the Japanese song “Koko No Sachi Are” before presenting the ʻukulele that was handcrafted at Mele ʻUkulele in Wailuku to Mayor Edahiro.
In Hiroshima, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, Mayor Bissen met with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who is President of Mayors for Peace. Mayor Bissen said he and Mayor Matsui agree that “we should co-exist in peace in our own cities and own countries and within countries throughout the world” to create a culture of peace.
After touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Mayor Bissen laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb, which holds the names of those killed by the bomb, at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
In another meeting, Mayor Bissen presented a poi pounder to Okayama Prefecture Governor Ryūta Ibaragi during preliminary discussions about a potential Sister City relationship with a city in the Bizen region. Mayor Bissen noted that Sentaro Ishii, a samurai who was among Gannenmono or “First-Year People” as one of the first immigrants from Japan to Hawaiʻi in 1868, married a Hawaiian woman and settled in Hāna. The poi pounder was created by students of the nonprofit Ma Ka Hana Ka ʻIke in Hāna. Sentaro Ishii was from Bizen, which is part of Okayama Prefecture.
Mayor Bissen said Sister Cities have a valuable role for our islands in establishing and sustaining strong business, cultural and educational relationships. Through diplomacy and international exchanges such as these, “We learn more about each other and in the process, we learn about ourselves,” he said.
Maui County was governed by a Board of Supervisors in 1956 when Sister Cities International was created under President Dwight Eisenhower to promote diplomacy through global relationships. In the late 1950s, the County Board of Supervisors had informal Sister City relationships before formalizing relationships in the 1960s.