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June 26, 2018

JICA President Kitaoka Visits Hawaii: 150th Anniversary of Japanese Emigration Celebrated in Hawaii

The 59th Convention of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad (held by the Association of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad and supported by JICA) was held on June 6-7 in Honolulu. Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Kiko attended the event. Other attendees included Senior Vice‐Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu Koichi Ito and JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka.

This convention, which brings together in one place Nikkei people living outside Japan, is an occasion for informing Japan about the situations in various countries with Japanese emigrant communities and for deepening international exchange, understanding and goodwill while promoting better understanding of Japan among other countries. The event usually is held in Tokyo, but to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Japanese group emigration, which began in 1868, it was held in Hawaii, the first emigrant destination.

Mr. Kitaoka gave a commemorative address at the beginning of the convention on June 6, taking up the example of Kiyoshi Kiyosawa, who after succeeding as an emigrant to the United States, also was successful as a foreign policy critic in Japan before WWII. Mr. Kitaoka pointed out that the source of Mr. Kiyosawa's success was his experiences as an emigrant who cut his own path.

Mr. Kitaoka also mentioned that after Japan gave material support to Nikkei people interned during WWII, Nikkei people returned the favor after Japan lost the war by donating powdered milk, clothing and other items as Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia (LARA) assistance. To sympathize about one another is the starting point of international cooperation, he said. Mr. Kitaoka said he wants to continue deepening JICA's ties to Nikkei communities, of course, but also to increase the number of pro-Japanese people, including non-Nikkei people.

Mr. Kitaoka wrapped up his speech by recalling the Meiji Restoration 150 years ago and saying it's time for Japan to begin another dynamic journey and make overseas Nikkei people proud of their ancestral country.
After panel discussions and other programs, the 59th Convention of Nikkei & Japanese Abroad concluded with an affirmation that it would promote networking among Nikkei museums in Japan and abroad and strengthen support for Nikkei communities in Japan, as well as declare June 20, the day the first Japanese emigrants arrived in Hawaii, to be “International Nikkei Day”.

On June 7, The Gannenmono 150th Anniversary Commemoration and Symposium was held by the Gannenmono Committee*. About 300 Nikkei people from 15 countries gathered for the events.

Just as Nikkei people in various countries have built trust in their local communities and the international community over the course of multiple generations, JICA will strengthen its development cooperation and its joint endeavors with diverse stakeholders, in keeping with its vision set forth last year of "Leading the world with trust."

* The Gannenmono Committee was formed by twenty organizations representing Nikkei American communities in Hawaii that make up what is known as the Kizuna Group, a Nikkei organization in Hawaii.

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