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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Governor heads contingent to 'express aloha' in Uwajima

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The governor and first lady will lead a contingent to Uwajima next month to pay their respects in the Japanese fishing village that was home to the Ehime Maru.

The Hawai'i group, to include the Kamehameha Schools Chorus and mayors of three counties, will visit June 7, said Tony Vericella, head of the Hawai'i Visitors & Convention Bureau.

The trip is part of a biennial visit of Isle tourism and government leaders to Japan.

Nine people died Feb. 9 when the submarine USS Greeneville collided with the Ehime Maru south of O'ahu.

"Because of what did occur, and the great outpouring from the people of Hawai'i — and because the governor himself sent a letter to the people of the village expressing our sympathies — we felt we should try to get there," Vericella said.

Uwajima, a city of 65,000, is on the island of Shikoku.

Vicky Cayetano said the visit is good for Hawai'i-Japan relations but goes beyond international politics.

"It is to visit and express our aloha to them," she said. "We will be there to emphasize the sensitivity we have to the people there for what they have gone through."

Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, the only mayor not traveling with the group because of two Mainland speaking engagements, will send a representative.

Harris said he will be in Colorado to speak on June 6 at the United Nations European and North American Roundtable on Sustainable Development, which provides regional input to the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Advertiser staff writer Robbie Dingeman contributed to this report.