HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige says there are some promising developments in bringing more Japanese visitors to Hawaii, and also easing restrictions for Hawaii residents traveling to Japan.

He says travel from Japan has already picked up since the U.S. dropped COVID testing requirements. And will only get better as both Japan Airlines and ANA plan to increase the number of flights to Hawaii starting July 1.

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“They’re very methodical in what they’re doing,” he said. “They said that they would slowly be increasing the number of travelers to Hawaii and they are doing that throughout the summer.”

The governor said restrictions for Hawaii residents who want to travel to Japan are also starting to ease, which should encourage more travel there. Hawaii residents are required to go with a tour group in order to visit Japan but Ige says travelers can go without a tour group if they book their trip through a travel agent.

“If you call and you say you want to visit Japan, and they make the arrangement, then they will inform the consulate here that you’re coming,” said Ige. “Then they will authorize you a visa to visit Japan.”

As for the recent Supreme Court ruling on abortion, Ige says it has divided the country even more. He says it’s also sad that the high court has become more political than ever.

“What I’m disappointed with is that this ruling will just kick off a whole bunch of confrontations and challenges in states all across the country, legal and otherwise, we’re seeing it already,” said Ige.

He added that it should not affect abortion laws here, and even if the Supreme Court rules against same sex marriage and contraceptives, he said Hawaii laws will remain the same.

With the primary election just over a month away, Ige says he’s not sure yet who he will support to replace him. His advice for the next governor?

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“It is about being focused and flexible and being willing to identify solutions and implement it as quickly as possible,” he said.