HONOLULU – Sister cities Honolulu and Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture have announced a series of events next year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War, including a display of fireworks from the Japanese city at Pearl Harbor.
The announcement was made while Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell was visiting Nagaoka, which has a century-old fireworks tradition, on Aug. 2 during a diplomatic and trade trip to Japan. The fireworks display will take place Aug. 15, the day Japan surrendered in 1945.
Both cities were severely affected by the war. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States’ direct participation in World War II, while Nagaoka was heavily bombed by the U.S. military toward the end of the Pacific War.
Nagaoka Mayor Tamio Mori said he believes the fruits of Nagaoka and Honolulu’s exchange will “bloom like fireworks” next year when the two cities commemorate the anniversary.
In comments provided by the city of Nagaoka, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell added that the fireworks display will be a historic event, showing that both Nagaoka, hometown of Isoroku Yamamoto, who commanded the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu, where the Pearl Harbor attack occurred, have built a wonderful friendship.
While there is some concern about potential opposition to the event from those affected by the Pearl Harbor attack, Edwin Hawkins, president of the Japan America Society of Hawaii, said people “must reflect on the road to war, why this happened, and think about future relationships.”
“We want to launch the fireworks as a symbol of peace and also reconciliation,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has been working with both cities to arrange the commemorative events. He said officials at the U.S. military’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam have already approved the display.
Other events next year include historical and cultural workshops geared toward children and youth in both cities, and a symposium to promote history and the importance of peace in conjunction with the USS Arizona Memorial, Nagaoka War Damage Exhibit Hall and Yamamoto Isoroku Memorial Museum. A Honolulu youth peace summit is also being discussed.
In March 2012, Nagaoka became Honolulu’s 28th sister city when then-Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and Nagaoka Mayor Mori signed a sister-city pact in Honolulu.