Hawaii and Japan have a significant and unique relationship and a first-ever event is being held this week to help strengthen that bond.

This morning on Wake Up 2day, Lori Teranishi, co-chair of the “Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit” joined us in studio to talk about the summit.

Teranishi says the goal of the summit is to accelerate regional and international exchange with prefectures in Japan that have interests in and connections to Hawaii. She says there are any local businesses, both in Hawaii and in Japan, which can benefit from stronger ties with other regions.

Teranishi believes in the power of people-to-people relations, and want to create an opportunity for leaders to meet one another and expand their network. and ultimately, she hopes the summit will strengthen relations among Hawaii, the continental U.S. and Japan.

Japan is vital to Hawaii’s economy. tourism is of course the biggest local industry, but there are also many businesses that would benefit from having a wider customer base. It can sometimes be intimidating to expand overseas, so we aim to lower the threshold, introduce best practices, and help build the network of local business leaders. we will also address big pictures issues, like renewable energy and education. we seek to find ways to maintain and strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between Hawaii and Japan.

It is fortunate that Hawaii already has a very strong relationship with Japan as a whole. Japanese tourists continue to visit the islands, and there is a great Japanese American and Japanese community here. U.S. Japan relations is in wonderful shape. but we also feel that we can strengthen economic relations on a state-prefecture level. Hawaii residents can benefit from learning more about local businesses in Japan, and about the strengths of each prefecture, since there may be a lot of untapped opportunities.