May 9-11, 2017

Presented by the U.S.-Japan Council and the State of Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, this three-day summit fostered tangible near- and long-term economic opportunities among Japanese prefectures, the State of Hawaii, and the continental U.S. 

(L-R) Vice Governor Masaru Eguchi of Fukuoka Prefecture; Vice Governor Yutaka Ota of Nagano Prefecture; Irene Hirano Inouye, President of USJC; Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki of Hiroshima Prefecture; Governor David Y. Ige of Hawaii; Dr. Daniel Okimoto, Member of the USJC Board of Councilors; Vice Governor Toyohiko Ota of Oita Prefecture; Vice Governor Takashi Nanba of Shizuoka Prefecture; and Dennis Teranishi, Chairman of the Board at USJC, at the Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit

Thank you to everyone who attended the Summit!!

Summit Overview

The Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit accelerated regional and international exchange with prefectures in Japan that have interests in and connections to Hawaii. The summit highlighted shared issues and opportunities spanning business, tourism, and energy, and forged connections that will pave the way for future collaboration and trade.

May 9-11, 2017
Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
68-1400 Mauna Lani Drive
Kohala Coast, Hawaii 96743

The Summit included more than 200 delegates from Japan, Hawaii, and the U.S. Mainland – including Governors, assembly officials, academia, and distinguished executives across the public and private sectors. The following prefectures were invited:

State of Hawaii Sister Partnerships

  • Ehime Prefecture
  • Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Hiroshima Prefecture
  • Hokkaido Prefecture
  • Okinawa Prefecture

USJC Governor’s Circle

  • Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Hiroshima Prefecture
  • Oita Prefecture
  • Okayama Prefecture
  • Nagano Prefecture
  • Shizuoka Prefecture


The inaugural Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit was a resounding success. More than 200 leaders—including governors, vice governors and other representatives of seven Japanese prefectures (Ehime, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Nagano, Oita and Shizuoka)—gathered in Kona from May 9 to 11, discussing ways to collaborate with Hawaii and the continental U.S. through food, tourism, education, clean energy and more.

This regional summit was the first of its kind, connecting Hawaii with Japanese prefectures with which it has sister-state relationships, as well as those that are part of USJC’s Governors’ Circle initiative. Governor David Y. Ige of Hawaii, Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki of Hiroshima, and the vice governors of Fukuoka, Nagano, Oita and Shizuoka all spoke in various sessions, discussing ways to enhance their state or prefectures’ relationship with one another and the continental U.S.


After the reception on May 9, Mayor Bernard Carvalho of Kauai (right) sang the Japanese traditional song “Furusato” (meaning “hometown”) with the delegation from Hokkaido, who had just signed a sister-state agreement with Hawaii the day before

After a grand welcome reception on the first day that was attended by all four mayors of the Aloha State (Hawaii (Big Island), Honolulu, Kauai and Maui), the second day of the Summit was filled with speeches and panel discussions examining Japan-Hawaii relations from various angles. Masaaki Tanaka, Senior Global Advisor of PwC International (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors) and Robert Harrison, Chairman & CEO of First Hawaiian Bank, each gave keynote speeches discussing the deep history between Hawaii and Japan, as well as future opportunities that keep expanding due to advances in technology that overcome geographical distances.

A panel called “Business Bridges,” which included Yasunobu Kyogoku, Managing Partner of Innovation Global Capital, examined best practices in expanding Hawaii businesses to Japan and vice versa. The education panel discussed how cross-cultural education is changing through innovation. The tourism panel, which included Pono Shim, President & CEO of the Oahu Economic Development Board, and George Szigeti, President & CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, discussed the charms of Hawaii and Japanese prefectures, as well as ways to promote two-way tourism. A governors’ panel with Governors Ige and Yuzaki, as well as founder of the Governors’ Circle Dr. Daniel Okimoto (Member of the USJC Board of Councilors), examined regional economic collaboration from a macro perspective. 

Mr. Rogers explaining how energy is stored at his ranch

The third day of the Summit continued with panel discussions on food and energy, featuring stars such as Daniel Dinell, President of Hawaii Coffee Company; Yosuke Honjo, CEO of ITO EN US Group (Member of the USJC Board of Directors); Allan Ikawa, President & CEO of Big Island Candies; Jeffrey Char, CEO of J-Seed Ventures, Inc; and Alan Oshima, President & CEO of Hawaiian Electric Company. The Summit concluded with a tour of Pu’u Wa’awa’a, a ranch owned by Founder & CEO of Blue Planet Energy, Henk Rogers. Mr. Rogers explained how the ranch is completely off the grid, storing energy in batteries, and how such renewable energy initiatives could be expanded elsewhere.

We would like to thank DBEDT and the State of Hawaii, the seven Japanese prefectures, the Summit Host Committee, our generous sponsors and everyone who attended.

Print Program 

Click here to see the print program, which has the full schedule and the bios of all speakers.


Click here to see more photos from the Summit.

Social Media 

Click here for the social media recap to see how the speakers and audience enjoyed the Summit activities! 


Keynote Speakers: 

Masaaki Tanaka, Vice Chair, Board of Councilors, U.S.-Japan Council; Senior Global Advisor, PwC International

Masaaki Tanaka, also known as Masa, served as Deputy President of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. from June 2012 to June 25, 2015. Mr. Tanaka served as the Chief Executive Officer of Americas at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., from July 28, 2010 to May 2011 and Managing Executive Officer since 2007. Masa has since been appointed to be Advisor at the Japan Financial Services Agency.

Robert Harrison, Chairman, First Hawaiian Bank

Robert Harrison became Chief Executive Officer in January 2012 and named Chairman of First Hawaiian Bank in May 2014. He served as Chief Operating Officer of First Hawaiian Bank from December 2009 to January 2012 and as its President from December 2009 to May 2015. He was named Vice Chairman in 2007 and served as the bank’s Chief Risk Officer from 2006 to 2009. He was elected to First Hawaiian Bank’s Board of Directors in December 2009 and appointed to the bank’s holding company board, First Hawaiian, Inc. in April 2016. He has been a member of the bank’s Senior Management Committee since January 2006.

He serves as Chairman of First Hawaiian Leasing, Inc. a subsidiary of the bank, and First Hawaiian Bank Foundation, the charitable arm of the bank. A 20-year veteran of the company, joining First Hawaiian Bank in 1996, he has over 28 years of financial industry experience working for banks in New York and in Hawaii. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Alexander and Baldwin (NYSE: ALEX), Hawaii Community Foundation, Blood Bank of Hawaii and is Chairman of Hawaii Medical Service Association, the independent licensee of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Hawaii. He is the current Chairman of the Hawaii Business Roundtable and is President of the Hawaii Bankers Association. He served in the U.S. Navy before earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MBA from Cornell University in New York.


  • David Ige, Governor, State of Hawaii
  • Hidehiko Yuzaki, Governor, Hiroshima Prefecture
  • Irene Hirano Inouye, President, U.S.-Japan Council 
  • Daniel Okimoto, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
  • Yasunobu Kyogoku, CEO, Innovative Global Capital 
  • Shigetoshi Ogino, Deputy General Manager and Director, ResortTrust
  • Seiki Takahashi, CEO, PJ Partners
  • Gregg Yamanaka, President, Learning Biz
  • Kuhao Zane, Designer, Sig Zane Designs 
  • David Lassner, President, University of Hawaii
  • Dawn Ige, First Lady, State of Hawaii
  • Kuniaki Shimozaki, Superintendent, Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education  
  • Alan Oshima, President & CEO, Hawaiian Electric Company
  • Jeff Char, Business Innovation Task Force, TEPCO
  • Henk Rogers, CEO, Blue Planet
  • Luis Salaveria, Director, State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism 
  • Masaru Eguchi, Vice Governor, Fukuoka Prefecture
  • Derek Kurisu, Executive Vice President, KTA Superstores
  • Toyohiko Ota, Vice Governor, Oita Prefecture 
  • Yosuke Honjo, President, Ito-En USA
  • Daniel Dinell, President, Hawaii Coffee Company/Lion Coffee
  • Allan Ikawa, President, Big Island Candies
  • George Szigeti, President & CEO, Hawaii Tourism Authority
  • Pono Shim, CEO, Oahu Economic Development Board 
  • Yutaka Ota, Vice Governor, Nagano Prefecture
  • Takashi Nanba, Vice Governor, Shizuoka Prefecture
  • Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, Director & Co-Founder, Honolulu Biennial 
  • Atsuyuki Oike, Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC

Summit Sponsors

  • Hoakalei Golf Club 
  • Salesforce
  • Bank of Hawaii
  • First Hawaiian Bank
  • First Insurance Company
  • Hawaiian Electric Company
  • Island Insurance
  • ITO EN
  • aio Group 
  • Alexander & Baldwin
  • American Savings Bank
  • Central Pacific Bank
  • HouseMart
  • HPM Building Supply
  • iQ 360
  • King’s Hawaiian
  • Queen’s Health System 
  • Sun Noodle
  • Zippy’s

Conference Schedule 

Tuesday, May 9 
4:00pmConference Registration
Main Lobby – Kona side
6:00pm – 8:00pmWelcome Reception
Poolside Lawn

Hosted by the State of Hawai’i Department of Business,
Education & Tourism,visiting officials from Japan will be honored
Wednesday, May 10 
7:30am – 8:45amBreakfast + Business Networking
Ballroom Lanai
8:45am – 9:15amWelcome

Messages from Irene Hirano Inouye, Governor David Ige, and Minister
Plenipotentiary and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in
Washington, DC Atsuyuki Oike 
9:15am – 9:45amKeynote Speaker 
9:45am – 10:45am Panel
BallroomBusiness Bridges: Crossing the Pacific to Global Success

The business cultures of Japan, Hawaii and the U.S. mainland are unique.
Books, articles and websites generally discuss major issues relevant to
commercial expansion to new markets, but fail to provide the networking
opportunities, “hands-on” knowledge, or relevant feedback to successfully
do so. This panel will discuss the experiences of business executives who have
generated new commercial affiliations and successfully navigated the complex
path of assessing strategies, selecting the right market entry method,
and coping with the differences of cultural and business etiquette in Japan,
Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Business and governmental networks and resources
they found helpful will also be highlighted.
10:45am – 11:00amMorning Break 
11:00am – 12:00pm Panel 
BallroomInnovations in Education: Sparking Global Awareness

The recent slowing of cross-border trade has made it even more important
to develop young leaders with an understanding and awareness of global
viewpoints. In this session, panelists will discuss recent educational innovations
and thinking on developing global thinkers from an early age. In particular,
we will look at how advancements in technology can open the doors to enhancing
the classroom experience in both Japan and Hawaii to stimulate interest
and knowledge of each other’s countries, while also increasing the
ability to attract international students.
12:00pm – 12:15pm Break 
(walk to Pavilion)  
12:15pm – 1:15pm Lunch + Networking Activity
Hale Haoloha Pavilion 
1:15pm – 1:30pmBreak 
(walk back to Ballroom)
1:30pm – 2:00pm  Keynote Two
Ballroom Robert Harrison, Chairman, First Hawaiian Bank 
2:00pm – 3:00pm Panel 
Ballroom Tourism 2.0: Strategies to Engage the Next Generation Visitor

Tourism is a major pillar of Japan’s growth strategy and accounts for more
than 20% of Hawaii’s economy. Learn more about its importance to Japan
and Hawaii by hearing from leaders pioneering strategies and tools in
tourism and branding to stimulate regional activities and overall economic
growth. The panel will also share gaps in the marketplace, and will reveal
anticipated opportunities for change, innovation, and bilateral cooperation.
3:00pm – 3:15pm Afternoon Break  
3:15pm – 4:15pm Panel – Governors’ Panel 
Ballroom Join Governor Ige and the USJC Governor’s Circle for a
discussion about bilateral relationships between Japan and Hawaii.
4:15pm – 5:30pm Evening Break  
5:30pm – 6:30pm Cocktail Reception
(all participants welcome)

Bay Terrace Restaurant (tentative) 
6:30pm – 8:30pm  Dinner 
Bay Terrace Restaurant (tentative)
Thursday, May 11  
7:30am – 8:45am  Breakfast + Business Networking
Ballroom Lanai 
8:45am – 9:10am  Welcome
9:10am – 10:10am Panel 
Ballroom Food Fortunes: Overcoming Challenges and
Building Brands Overseas

With the great interest in agriculture and food from Hawaii and
Japan, the importing and exporting of food between countries is
expected to continue. For Japanese food companies, Hawaii provides
a lower risk market to begin global expansion and for Hawaii-based
companies, Japanese consumers’ affinity for Hawaiian products
provides a natural expansion opportunity. This panel will explore
business opportunities and challenges; local sourcing; resource management;
food security and safety; and rules and regulations of the importing
and exporting of foods.
10:00am – 11:00amPanel 
Ballroom  Renewable Energy

How will Hawaii achieve its goal of using 100 percent renewable
resources by 2045, and address the upcoming policy and
consumer-level changes and impacts that we can anticipate? How
is Japanese technology and adoption in the sector progressing, and
how do their renewable energy goals measure up? Hear from
thought leaders and change agents from both markets.
11:15am – 11:25am Closing RemarksBallroomDennis Teranishi, Chairman of the Board 
11:25am – 11:45pm Board Buses 
Drive to Puu Waawaa Ranch 
12:10pm – 12:20pm Welcome by Henk Rogers
Puu Waawaa Ranch Pavilion   
12:20pm – 2:20pm Lunch, Tours of the Energy Lab and Business Networking
Puu Waawaa Ranch Pavilion  

(Groups of 20, 15 minutes per group for the Energy Lab Tour)
2:20pm – 3:00pm Board Buses 
Return to hotel 
3:00pm Summit Adjourned  

About the U.S.-Japan Council 

The U.S.-Japan Council is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational organization that contributes to strengthening U.S.-Japan relations by bringing together diverse leadership, engaging stakeholders and exploring issues that benefit communities, businesses and government entities on both sides of the Pacific. The Council cultivates an international network of members, and collaborates with other organizations and institutions to develop programs that allow members to engage with their counterparts in the United States and Japan.

The Council promotes people-to-people relations as crucial to a strong U.S.-Japan relationship. The Council was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington, DC with staff in Hawaii, California and Tokyo. In 2012, the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was created to support the administration of the TOMODACHI Initiative, and in 2013, it became a Public Interest Corporation (Koeki Zaidan Hojin). The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) maintains its office in Tokyo, Japan.

About the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism 

DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data, business development opportunities, energy and conservation information, and foreign trade advantages. DBEDT’s mission is to achieve a Hawaii economy that embraces innovation and is globally competitive, dynamic and productive, providing opportunities for all Hawaii’s citizens. Through its attached agencies, the department fosters planned community development, creates affordable workforce housing units in high-quality living environments, andpromotes innovation sector job growth.

Media EDIA 

The Summit was covered by Hawaii News NowKHON2Hawaii Tribune Herald and KITV4.

(Click here to see the pre-Summit press release.)