By Brandon Bosworth, Assistant Editor, Ho’okele
People from all over the United States and the world are coming to Hawaii to participate in the Dec. 7 ceremonies marking the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
One person making a particularly long journey is Tamio Mori. Mori is the mayor of Nagaoka city in Japan and will be traveling from his home city to attend this Sunday’s events. It will be his first time in attendance. He was invited by Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.
Nagaoka is one of Honolulu’s official sister cities and, for many years, Nagaoka has had a productive relationship with both Honolulu and Pearl Harbor. This relationship dates back to 2007 when a student exchange program between Nagaoka and Honolulu was initiated.
“One major part of that exchange involved Japanese students witnessing the Pearl Harbor memorial ceremony as well as building a relationship between Nagaoka’s Yamamoto Isoroku museum and the Arizona Memorial Museum,” said Mori.
“Nagaoka students visit Hawaii each December to learn about the shared war experience and how America honors its military heroes,” he said.
Nagaoka is the home of Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor that cost 2,403 Americans their lives. On Aug. 1, 1945, Nagaoka was destroyed by American bombs, killing 1,485 people.
“We feel the pains of war just like the people of Honolulu and hope to build mutual understanding as well as appreciation for the pursuit of peace for ourselves and future generations,” said Mori.
“The youth exchange, which will also occur this December, is a continuation of this desire and commitment. I will accompany these students to the memorial ceremony along with my wife,” he added.
The relationship between Nagaoka and Honolulu will no doubt grow even stronger in 2015. Nagaoka will be contributing fireworks to next year’s ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the restoration of peace between Japan and the United States.
Nagaoka is famous for its unique fireworks, which are manufactured in the city, and is home to an annual fireworks festival held every summer that attracts upwards of 900,000 spectators.
Mori sees his city’s participation in the 2015 ceremonies as another way of bringing Japan and the U.S. even closer together.
“We have enjoyed nearly 70 years of peaceful development and relations, and I wanted to mark this event with a fireworks display at Pearl Harbor, the site of the Japanese attack,” he said.
“This event on Aug. 15, 2015 will not only remember and honor those who were lost in this tragic episode in history but also symbolize our dedication to future peaceful relations between our countries and to work for peace in the world.
“We are grateful to the U.S. Navy, Navy Region Hawaii, the City and County of Honolulu, as well as the National Park Service, Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Pacific Historic Parks, Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Missouri Foundation, and those others who support this planned event,” Mori explained.