Updated: September 23, 2023
The Hawaiʻi State Legislature today signed a sister-legislative relationship agreement with the Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly of Japan.
This signing ceremony culminated a two-year effort to formally establish a sister-legislative relationship between the two states.
Legislative leaders say the people of Hawaiʻi and Yamaguchi share a long history, beginning with the immigration of 10,424 contract laborers to Hawaiʻi between 1885 and 1894 as kanyaku imin (government-sponsored immigrants), pursuant to the Hawaiian-Japanese Labor Convention of 1886. Since then, there have been continuous cultural exchanges between the people of Hawaiʻi and Yamaguchi.
A renewal of this bond between Hawaiʻi and Yamaguchi was spearheaded by former State Senator Brian Taniguchi, who introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 241 in 2021, calling to establish a sister-state relationship.
In the Senate, these efforts were strongly supported by Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi and Senate Vice President Michelle N. Kidani (Senate District 18 – Mililani Town, Waipi‘o Gentry, Crestview, Waikele, portion of Waipahu, Village Park, Royal Kunia).
“In August 2022, I joined a delegation of legislators on a sister-state mission to Japan, where we met with Yamaguchi Governor Tsugumasa Muraoka and members of the Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly,” said Senate Vice President Kidani in a legislative press release. “After years of collaboration and interactions, I am pleased to see this relationship finally formalized.”
According to the agreement, the focus of this sister-legislative relationship is to develop people-to-people exchanges in the fields of business, education, and culture and periodic face-to-face visits to each other’s legislative chambers and offices.
“As we emerge post-pandemic, I am excited for the opportunities that lay ahead for further collaborations and interactions with our colleagues from the Yamaguchi Prefectural Assembly,” said Senate President Kouchi. “Both Hawaiʻi and Yamaguchi have much to offer, and it is my hope that we can work together as a collective to better the lives of the people that we serve.”