Hawaii Members Lead Coronavirus Relief Efforts

The U.S.-Japan Council is fortunate to have an incredible community working across sectors and generations to solve global challenges. We would like to showcase the work being done by those in our community to respond to the coronavirus, thank those on the frontlines and connect our leaders to opportunities for meaningful collaboration. We invite those who are combating the coronavirus outbreak or addressing its many societal ramifications to share their stories and experiences here

USJC members in Hawaii are taking action to combat the coronavirus and supporting their local communities. Learn more about some of their amazing efforts below.


KizunAloha is a coalition of more than 20 companies, government agencies and nonprofits based in Hawaii and Japan, that recently launched a campaign that aims to support future economic recovery efforts by continuing to engage the Japanese market through virtual content. Its name combines kizuna, the Japanese word for connection, and aloha, a well-known Hawaiian word that translates to compassion. As this name implies, KizunAhola’s work demonstrates the special friendship and economic partnership between Hawaii and Japan, and appreciation for Japan’s role as Hawaii’s largest international market. The campaign opened with a special video message from Governor David Ige thanking Japanese consumers for their support as Hawaii responds to the current global crisis with travel restrictions and quarantines. Additional videos highlighting Hawaii’s tourism and business industries will be released and aims to reach approximately 10 million Japanese consumers online.

Screenshot from a video by the Hawaii Tourism Authority

Among those leading efforts for KizunAloha are Chair Elect of the USJC Board of Directors Paul Yonamine, Council Leaders Duane Kurisu (JALD ’10), Eric Takahata (JALD ’13), and Lori Teranishi (JALD ’20 selectee), and Associate Lynn Miyahira (ELP ’14).

The following organizations are contributing funding, marketing resources or network outreach through the KizunAloha campaign:

  • aio Foundation
  • All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.
  • ANA Sales Americas
  • Central Pacific Bank Foundation
  • Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism
  • Halekulani Corporation
  • Hankyu Travel International Co., Ltd.
  • Hawaiʻi Executive Collaborative
  • Hawaii News Now
  • Hawaiʻi Lodging and Tourism Association
  • Hawaiʻi Tourism Japan
  • Hawaii HIS Corporation
  • Japan Airlines Co., Ltd.
  • JALPAK International Hawaii, Inc.
  • Japan Hawaii Travel Association
  • JCB International Credit Card Co., Ltd.
  • JTB Hawaii Inc.
  • Kyo-ya Company, LLC Kokusai Kogyo Group
  • Kintetsu International Express Hawaii Company
  • KZOO Radio
  • MajiConnection
  • Nippon Travel Agency Hawaii, Inc.
  • Prince Resorts Hawaii, Inc.
  • State of Hawaiʻi
  • TTA, Inc. dba Tobu Top Tours Co., Ltd.
Paul Yonamine joins Hawaii News Now to discuss KizunAloha

Learn more about this effort by watching a clip here.

Every1ne Hawaii’s #Masks4allHawaii

Nicole Velasco (ELP ’15) is one of the founding leaders of Every1ne Hawaii – a nonprofit organization focused on educating, activating and unifying the next generation in Hawaii. Though originally formed to address civic engagement, Every1ne pivoted to support Hawaii’s pandemic rapid response by procuring 2 million masks to be distributed to the public for free. In support of this #Mask4AllHawaii initiative, a group of Emerging Leaders Program alumni and other USJC U40 members assisted with pre-packaging the masks for safe distribution through Every1ne’s statewide network of community partners. They make a special effort to share important information and safety tips, and provide resources to local communities in need. Click here to learn more.   

Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund

The Kokua Restaurant Workers’ Fund, launched by Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (HFWF), aims to support restaurant and bar workers impacted by the pandemic by giving them visa cards for use at local restaurants. The Fund has a goal of raising $250,000 to provide about 10,000 meals. As part of this effort, Member of the Board of Councilors Chef Roy Yamaguchi launched the #ALOHAChallenge, an online crowdfunding campaign where the participants dance and lip sync to the chorus of the Mana’o Company song, “A-L-O-H-A” in order to raise awareness and donations for the industry. USJC Associate Aya Leslie, Director of Development and Marketing at HFWF, has worked to raise awareness for the Kokua Restaurant Works’ Fund, which is named for the Hawaiian word for “help.”

You can join the #AlohaChallenge here, or donate to the Fund by visiting www.HawaiiFoodandWineFestival.com.