Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono participated in two activities with the Nisei Veterans Legacy on August 22, 2018, during his short visit to Hawaii.
Byrnes Yamashita led a tour of the Hawaii Nikkei Legacy Exhibit at the University of Hawaii at West Oahu library. Foreign Minister and Mrs. Kono were accompanied by Consul General and Mrs. Ito of the Japan Consulate of Honolulu. The Foreign Minister expressed his thanks for hearing about the Hawaii Nikkei history. Byrnes gave credit to Ambassador and Mrs. Shigeeda for coming to us with the request to take such an exhibit to Japan over three years ago.
Nisei Veterans and leaders from the various local AJA Veterans organizations were invited to meet with Foreign Minister Kano and Consul General Ito for an informal meeting over a bento lunch. The meeting took place at the 100th Infantry Battalion Clubhouse after the Foreign Minister, his wife, and Consul General Ito and his wife were given a tour of the Clubhouse. Minister Kono warmly addressed the group and talked about the importance of the Nisei Soldier story and the Japanese American experience. He emphasized that these stories including ones about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWIII really need to be shared with the Japanese people.
Minister Kono also shared his thoughts about his U.S. experience (he graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., worked for a couple of politicians, and knew Senator Daniel Inouye) and immigration in Japan. The Nisei veterans in attendance included Herbert Yanamura, Robert Kishinami (and his wife), Fujio Matsuda, Kazuto Shimizu, and George Ariyoshi, who served as the spokesperson for the AJA Veterans organizations. It was an honor to meet Foreign Minister Kono and hope that this is the start of an ongoing relationship with him.