HONOLULU–Lt. Governor Brian Schatz began his work in Japan and Korea by meeting with 2011 APEC Ambassador Kurt Tong, now Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy.

During the Monday meeting (Sunday, Hawaii time), the two discussed strategies to strengthen U.S-Japan relationships, building new clean energy partnerships in Hawai‘i , and ways of ensuring that the state’s tourism remains on track with its current growth rates.

“One of the values of APEC was establishing relationships in the region, so we are building on the momentum we have,” Lt. Governor Schatz said.

The Ambassador and Lieutenant Governor discussed a pending partnership between Hawai‘i and six Japanese prefectural governments, and enhancing the Hawai‘i-Okinawa Partnership on clean energy.

On Monday, Lt. Governor Schatz also met with Hideo Hato, president of Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO. Last year, Governor Neil Abercrombie and NEDO officials signed a memorandum of understanding that formalized the $37 million Smart Grid Demonstration Project on the island of Maui.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Schatz will meet with the president of the Japan Red Cross, Tadateru Konoe. In the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the  Lt. Governor’s office helped coordinate disaster relief efforts by local banks, credit unions and other island businesses for people affected by the disaster in Japan.

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