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KTA’s Barry Taniguchi to represent Hawaii in Japan, visit tsunami hit region of Tohoku


Hilo, HI – Ten Japanese American leaders from across the country will travel to Japan March 3rd-10th to meet with top officials to further develop the U.S.-Japan relationship and establish a meaningful role for Japanese Americans. Barry Taniguchi will represent Hawaii in the 2012 Japanese American Leadership Delegation Program (JALD).

Barry Taniguchi

Barry Taniguchi

Taniguchi runs KTA Super Stores, a chain of family grocery stores on Hawai’i Island. He is also director of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., American Savings Bank and Hawaii Employers Mutual Insurance Corporation. He is Chair Elect of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s Board of Directors, and is involved with numerous foundations and organizations. He is a third generation Japanese American.

“Being a Sansei, my relationship with Japan has been quite limited; we were raised to be Americans of Japanese ancestry,” said Taniguchi. “It is only later in my life that I began to seek a cultural re-connection with Japan and our mother land.” He continued, “I hope to gain a better and improved understanding of the long-term relations between Japanese Americans and Japan, and to expand our roles in advancing U.S.-Japan relations.”

When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11th, Taniguchi was immediately reminded of the devastating tsunami that destroyed much of Hilo in 1960. As a board member for the Pacific Tsunami Museum, Taniguchi hopes to bring back valuable information from meeting first-hand with tsunami survivors in Tohoku.

For the first time in 12-year program history, the delegation will visit the city of Sendai in the Tohoku region to show support for the devastated region and learn from those living there. In Sendai, Taniguchi will participate in a March 5th symposium sponsored by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the U.S.-Japan Council focused on empowering civil society in Japan. The delegation will also visit Tokyo for a variety of exchanges with high level leaders. In past years, delegations have met with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Japan.

U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano Inouye will lead the delegation made up of Taniguchi and nine other Japanese Americans from across the country that are active in their communities, engaged in U.S.-Japan relations and committed to deepening ties between Japanese Americans and Japan. The 2012 delegation will join an active network of 136 JALD alumni. The program is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and organized by the U.S.-Japan Council.

The U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) is a 501(c) 3 national non-profit organization that acts as a catalyst by energizing Japanese American leaders to strengthen and diversify U.S.-Japan relations. USJC promotes people-to-people relationships as crucial to deepening ties between the U.S. and Japan and provides networking opportunities for top stakeholders in the bi-lateral relationship.

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