HONOLULU – Prince Akishino praised emigrants from Japan and their descendents for their decades of dedication to local communities during opening remarks at a symposium held in a Honolulu hotel on Wednesday.
“I am encouraged to see (them) taking active roles in various fields and gaining trust from local communities,” the prince said on the third day of a nearly weeklong visit to Hawaii with his wife, Princess Kiko. The couple also learned more about the culture and history of Japanese immigrants in Hawaii.
On Tuesday, the prince and his wife, who are on their first official trip to the United States, watched local children play wadaiko (Japanese drums) and practice kendo at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. The facility promotes awareness and understanding of the history and culture of Japanese-Americans. The center also includes a section devoted to those who were placed in internment camps during World War II.
At the hotel where they were staying, the prince, the younger son of Emperor Akihito, and the princess also met with current and former students from the University of Hawaii who received scholarships from the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation.
The scholarship was established in 1959 by a Japanese-American businessman as a wedding gift to then-Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko, according to the foundation.
On Tuesday night, the royals attended a banquet hosted by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, a third-generation Japanese-American.
“I hope this bond of friendship and goodwill between Japan and Hawaii will deepen and last long,” the prince said during a speech.
He also expressed sympathy for people affected by the eruption of the Kilauea volcano, which has forced many residents to evacuate their homes on Hawaii’s Big Island.
The couple traveled to Hawaii to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on the islands.
They will return to Japan on Saturday.