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City and County of Honolulu (Hawaii, United States of America)

Sister City Agreement

Established on June 15, 1959 (date of Hiroshima City Council approval)

Honolulu Facts and Figures

Who's in charge?
Mayor Kirk Caldwell (assumed office January 2013)

How many people live there? 
Approximately 1 million people

How big is Honolulu?
1,556 km squared (approx. 1.7 times the size of Hiroshima City!)

Where is it?
On Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands in the heart of the Pacific Ocean

What's the weather like?
Blessed with a warm, comfortable climate all year round due to trade winds and with the average temperature in January at 22.7°C and the average temperature in August at 27.4°C, there is little seasonal temperature difference.

Get to Know Honolulu

As the state capital of Hawaii, Honolulu presides as the center of political and economic activity in the state and comprises 70% of the state’s population. Meaning Port of Refuge in Hawaiian, Honolulu once served as a supply base for whaling ships. Beautiful scenery and resort spots, in addition to a pleasant year-round climate, attract a large amount of tourists to Honolulu every year.

Having taken in many immigrants from around the world, Hawaii is a multicultural society representing a fusion of Polynesian, Asian, and European ethnic backgrounds. During a ten-year period between 1885 and 1894, approximately 30,000 people emigrated from Japan to work in areas such as the sugar cane industry--around one third of these people came from Hiroshima!

Tourism and commerce are the central industries of Honolulu, in addition to pineapple and sugar related industries. Taking advantage of its unique geographic location in the center of the Pacific, Honolulu aims to serve not only as a major tourist and resort destination, but also to continue its development as a regional transportation hub for the Asian-Pacific region, as well as a central point in the fields of advanced technology, environmental preservation, and urban issues.

A Little History About Our Sister City Agreement

Honolulu was the first city to establish a sister city relationship with Hiroshima. Following WWII, as exchanges of people and culture between Japan and the United States flourished, there was a growing tendency to establish formal relationships between cities in Japan and the United States. The "People to People Program," initiated by President Eisenhower in the 1950s, was one aspect of this trend. This program encouraged American cities to establish sister city relations with other cities around the world in order to promote world peace through direct exchange and mutual understanding between citizens in various countries.

On May 19, 1959, the City and County of Honolulu Council passed a resolution inviting Hiroshima into a sister city agreement, and the Hiroshima City Council accepted, formally establishing the agreement on June 15 of the same year. The gareement came to pass in part due to the two cities’ similar populations, and because many Honolulu citizens had emigrated from Hiroshima, creating a mutual feeling of familiarity between the cities. Furthermore, the city council stated that such a town affiliation program would strengthen mutual faith and understanding, and thus contribute to consolidating the ties of friendship between Japan and the United States.

Building Bridges Through Exchange

Beginning with mutual youth exchange visits that have been continuing for over 50 years following the signing of the sister city agreement, friendship between Honolulu and Hiroshima has grown only deeper through the dispatch of citizen delegations, including Tourism Goodwill Ambassadors and high-school student friendship delegations. In recent years, the base of people-to-people interaction between the two cities has become even more solid, and has grown to include relationships between Japan-America exchange groups, as well as exchanges involving elementary schools and academic exchange between universities. In addition, there has been constant exchange in a broad range of other fields, such as agreements between charity organizations and the alternate holding of friendly matches between university baseball teams. Natives of Hiroshima and their descendents, most of whom are members of the Hiroshima Kenjin Kai in Hawaii, have consistently played a central role in carrying out these exchange activities.

Following agreements between both cities' Chambers of Commerce and Industry, both cities have seen active exchange in the economic sphere. In 2001, the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hiroshima Prefecture, and the City of Hiroshima joined together to present Honolulu with a replica of the Great Torī Gate which sits before the Itsukushima Shrine (UNESCO World Heritage Site) on Miyajima, as a symbol of everlasting friendship. It now serves as a landmark symbol of the deep bond between the two cities.

In July 2009, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of sister city relations, a 41-member delegation led by the Mayor and the Chairperson of the City Council visited Honolulu, participated in a commemorative ceremony, and attended performances by art groups and an anniversary reception. This was followed by a visit to Hiroshima by a 91-member delegation from Honolulu led by the Mayor and the Chairperson of the City Council, during which they participated in events such as a commemorative ceremony and an anniversary reception.

Mayor Peter Carlisle attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony for the first time as Mayor of Honolulu in August 2011. Also, in October of that year, the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce came to Hiroshima to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its sister chamber relationship with the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A special ceremony was held to commemorate the organizations’ long-standing efforts to promote economic exchange between our two cities.

In June 2012, an economic exchange delegation which included Mayor Matsui visited Honolulu to discuss economic exchange between the two cities. In August 2014, Mayor Kirk Caldwell visited our city to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony and was bestowed Special Honorary Citizenship in Hiroshima City. Moreover, in November 2014, Asa Zoological Park and Honolulu Zoo concluded a sister zoo agreement to promote their collaboration. Thus far, Japanese giant salamanders have been gifted to Honolulu Zoo, and a Hyacinth macaw has been gifted to Asa Zoological Park.

Honolulu Mayor Caldwell receives award from Hiroshima Mayor Matsui.
Receiving Special Honorary Citizenship

picture of  Honolulu Mayor Caldwell
Honolulu Mayor Caldwell

Inquiries regarding this page

International Relations Division, Citizens Affairs Bureau
1-6-34 Kokutaiji-machi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima
Tel: +81 82-504-2106  Fax: +81 82-249-6460
Email: kokusai@city.hiroshima.lg.jp