On Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, Dr. James Barahal, president and CEO of the Honolulu Marathon Association, received the 2021 Foreign Minister’s Commendation at the official residence of the Consul General of Japan, Yutaka Aoki, in Honolulu. Dr. Barahal is recognized for his achievements in promoting economic and cultural relations between Japan and the United States.
The program included:
- Opening remarks by the Consul General Aoki
- Official conferment from the Consul General Aoki to Dr. Barahal
- Dr. Barahal’s speech
- Speech by Dr. Jon Cross, vice president of the Honolulu Marathon Association.
In his speech, Dr. Barahal thanked the teams both in Hawai‘i and Japan for their continuous efforts to grow the Honolulu Marathon and making it a meaningful event for everyone by bringing together the people of Japan and Hawai‘i. Dr. Barahal said it was “an incredible honor to receive the award on behalf of the team and everyone who made the event possible.”
Dr. Barahal has been president of the Honolulu Marathon since 1987 and has transformed the race into the fourth largest marathon in the United States and biggest economic impact sporting event in Hawai‘i, generating more than $100 million a year in visitor spending each December. By 1992, the increase in runners jumped from 6,000 to 30,000, through the help of the organization’s 20th anniversary and a local promotion that offered an entry fee of two dollars for first year runners. As the numbers began to steadily increase, Dr. Barahal signed Japan Airlines as the marathon’s principal sponsor, which continues its partnership today. Through Dr. Barahal’s efforts in continuing Hawai‘i’s close ties with its Pacific neighbors, the Honolulu Marathon has attracted over 470,000 Japanese nationals who’ve arrived to Hawai‘i to compete for the coveted honor and title of Honolulu Marathon runner.