Hawaii has made it to Japan’s proposed list of safe destinations for international travel.
Responding to the news, Hawaii Governor David Ige and House Speaker Scott Saiki expressed their gratitude to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi for the inclusion of Hawaii along with an exclusive list of 12 countries and regions that are being considered to resume safe international travel with Japan.
Earlier, Japan Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Motegi announced that international travel between Japan and the 12 destinations is being considered in the near future with Europe and Hawaii to follow in the next step.
In the release, Ige said Hawaii is the only destination in the United States mentioned for consideration for Japan’s resumption of international travel. Other destinations that Japan is considering discussions with include Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Singapore and Taiwan.
Governor Ige stated, “On behalf of the State of Hawaii, we are honored that Prime Minister Abe and Japan’s policy makers are considering Hawaii for resuming safe and responsible international travel. Japan and Hawaii enjoy longstanding cultural ties and a deep-rooted friendship that has enriched the lives of many generations. It’s important that we restore travel between Japan and Hawaii and we see this program as a way to make this possible, while also preventing the further spread of infections from COVID-19.”
Governor Ige further noted that details for the Japan-Hawaii safe travel program are still being resolved and no timetable has been set for when it would take effect. The governor stressed that public health will be the overriding factor in determining how the program is carried out to support the state’s economic recovery and the tens of thousands of residents who depend on the travel industry for their livelihoods.
“Providing safe travel for both residents and visitors is vital to strengthening our state’s economic health and long-term recovery. Protecting the public’s health will always be our first priority and the foundation for which any economic recovery program is built upon, including trans-Pacific travel,” said Governor Ige.
According to the release, Speaker Saiki was instrumental in Hawaii being included on Japan’s list of travel destinations through his discussions with Japan’s top policy makers as the chair of the Japan Hawaii Legislators Friendship Association. The association provides a forum for legislative-level interactions between Japan and Hawaii lawmakers to share information and initiatives to strengthen relationships, policies and economic opportunities.
“We are thankful for this expression of confidence by Japan for the eventual renewal of travel with Hawaii. It’s just as important for Hawaii residents to be able to travel again to Japan to connect with family members, conduct business, and experience historic cultural sites, as it is for us to welcome the people of Japan back to Hawaii,”
Speaker Saiki said.
She added: “Similar to Japan, a lot of work has been accomplished to make Hawaii as safe as possible from the spread of the coronavirus since international travel was suspended in March. We are getting closer to the point where travel between Japan and Hawaii can be restarted, while staying focused on protecting people’s health. When that occurs, it will be a big step forward to reviving a segment that is important to the overall economic health of Hawaii and its people.”
Japan is Guam’s major tourism market. However, it was recently taken off Adelup’s list of low-risk areas because of the surge of COVID-19 infections in the country.