Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu!
Happy New Year!
Greetings to all of you at the start of the Year of the Rooster!
Our sold-out 72nd Shinnen Enkai New Year’s celebration event was a big hit, keeping the legacy of the past, but including many changes while continuing to share Japanese culture and traditions of the New Year with our members, families, guests, and business associates. I appreciate and commend the leadership of Executive Committee Member and Event Chair Steve Teruya, President and CEO of Finance Factors, and his committee for their creativity, passion on planning this year’s event, along with our dedicated HJCC staff.
Mahalo, thank you and BRAVO! for the terrific performances of the HJCC and Quad Chamber member song contestants in our Kohaku Uta Matsuri, and to the cast of the Shiranami Gonin Otoko Kabuki play. A big appreciation to our Sensei’s or teachers for their help to guide and train our courageous cast members to have such outstanding performance.
The event set the tone for 2017 with passion, engagement, and fresh ideas, while offering business networking to kick off the New Year.
The Saturday morning after our Shinnen Enkai, your Chamber joined with our Quad Chamber partners to host a 2017 Legislative Forum to kick off the start of the new legislative session. Government Affairs Chair, Peter Hamasaki, of McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP. led our group of over ten members in attendance. Senators Will Espero, Jill Tokuda, Glenn Wakai were joined by House members Balatti, Cachola, Cullen, and Mizuno. Topics discussed included, “ The impact of a Trump Administration on Hawaii”, homelessness, rail, taxes, and new opportunities for business growth and development. Senator Wakai noted in his remarks that the Quad Chambers together “have a more impressive voice for business, in particular small business”, and “labor knows how to work with the legislature, and we need to hear a balance of voice at the legislature from business”. The panel suggested members of the Quad Chambers to continue dialog, get involved in learning the process of the legislature, and bring our innovative ideas for solving problems or for growth direct to our legislative members.
This was an excellent event to set the tone and stage for our Government Affairs involvement for 2017. Thank you to the 100 plus members who filled in our HJCC 2017 Legislative Survey that is now being analyzed and prepared to deliver to our legislative members.
Taking a look back at 2016, your Chamber leadership and members were fortunate and honored to be a part of the “bookends” of history between the US and Japan. HJCC’s spring trip to visit and celebrate the 35th Sister Chamber relations with the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce & Industry with a delegation of more than 25 members and guests led by Past Chair Tyler Tokioka, was on the heels of the President Obama’s historic visit there. They met with Japanese government leaders, including Governor Yuzaki of Hiroshima and sister and aligned chamber members in Hiroshima and the Iwakuni Chamber of Commerce & Industry who spoke positively about President Obama’s historic visit—as did media and Hiroshima residents.
Over the holidays, our members and leaders were honored to welcome Prime Minister Abe to Honolulu. Many attended a welcome dinner with him and other Japan-related organizations, supported by Consul General Misawa and his office. Prime Minister Abe gave a heartfelt and very personal welcome speech and emphasized the importance of Japan’s relationship with the U.S. and, in particular, the relationship with Hawaii and our Japanese-American community. Governor Ige and former Governor Ariyoshi also offered welcoming remarks to the Prime Minister. The event was highlighted by local musician, Jake Simabukuro, as Prime Minister Abe encouraged our Japanese-American community to share Hawaii’s culture, entertainment, and ukelele music with him and his delegation. Our members and guests got to take photos with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Kishida and Defense Minister Inada.
Your leadership, including President Wayne Ishihara and Chair-elect Brian Nishida and I, were honored to attend the historic ceremony of reconciliation and peace with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama at Pearl Harbor. Both noted the strong alliance between nations. As President Obama said, “Our presence here today — the connections not just between our governments, but between our people, the presence of Prime Minister Abe here today — remind us of what is possible between nations and between peoples.”
In 2017, the HJCC will continue to build upon important relationships and business connections with our Japan partners and friends for the benefit of our HJCC members and Hawaii.
Under the leadership of Chair-elect Brian Nishida, your board has been working diligently since this past summer on the HJCC 2017-2020 Strategic Plan. We anticipate acceptance and approval of the plan in early 2017 and will focus on strategies and initiatives it outlines. We will continue to engage members with relevant programs and events that add value as a membership benefit, and will initiate a growth plan focusing on membership diversity. We hope you will introduce your business associates to the HJCC, and help us increase our membership.
Our members and their engagement and support of each other, “Members Supporting Members”, continues to be our important foundation and theme for 2017.
My best wishes to all of you for a successful and prosperous New Year!
Thank you always for your confidence in me and for your passion for the HJCC.
Chair of the Board
Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce – 2016–2017
President & CEO
PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. & PRTech, LLC.