Thank you to Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki of Hiroshima, Governor Heita Kawakatsu of Shizuoka and Governor Yasushi Furukawa of Saga for coming to Hawaii and for your interest in creating a partnership with the State of Hawaii.
Thank you to Governor Neil Abercrombie for hosting the first meeting of a State to Prefecture Collaboration.
I want to extend my appreciation to Lt. Governor Brian Schatz and the U.S.-Japan Council for organizing the meeting and creating stronger ties with Japan at the prefecture level.
Hawaii and Japan, especially at the prefectural level, have had strong cultural ties over many years. The signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between the State of Hawaii and each of the three Prefectures to develop future economic, educational, and tourism opportunities is significant for strengthening and broadening relationships.
I often quote the words of former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, who became the 34th U.S. Ambassador to Japan in 1977. In one of his first speeches, Ambassador Mansfield stated, "the most important bilateral relationship is the one with Japan, bar none." This has, and continues to be the policy of the United States.
No relationship is static. The same may be said of U.S. - Japan relations, which has evolved from one of conflict to one of partnership in security, trade, and diplomacy. What we need now, what is an important step in our relationship, is to build and strengthen our people-to-people connections.