Screenshot of the press conference following the trilateral meeting of Korea Foreign Minister Eui-Yong Chung (left), United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (middle) and Japan Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (right).

On Saturday, Feb. 12, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Eui-Yong Chung to reaffirm the importance of a strong trilateral alliance as the countries address current global challenges. The three country representatives committed to expand cooperation across a range of security and economic issues. 

They agreed their countries share a common view of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and respect international order that pledges to further expand their cooperative relationships. Both foreign ministers also agreed with the United States’ newly released Indo-Pacific Strategy. 

They condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches and remained committed to their partnerships in order to achieve complete denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. They encourage future dialogue with North Korea without preconditions in order to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability within the region; therefore committed to advance trilateral security cooperation, which includes frequent trilateral discussions between the respective special representatives for North Korea and further discussed the importance of reuniting separated Korean families. In relation to Russian military build-up along Ukraine’s borders, they shared support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and committed to work closely in order to deter further Russian escalation.

The three also agreed on the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and reaffirmed support for the unity of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is chaired by Cambodia, including efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar. They condemned the Myanmar regime’s violence committed against the people of Myanmar and recommitted their efforts towards immediate cessation of all violence including the release of those who are unjustly detained and help the country to return back to an inclusive democracy.

The importance of trilateral cooperation to strengthen the rules-based economic order and ensure prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world was another topic the Secretary and Foreign Ministers discussed in their meeting. They shared common ways to address issues such as climate change, critical supply chains, gender equality and empowerment, development finance, and global health security including efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and steps in which to prevent the next. They also highlighted the importance of strengthening cyber security and promoting innovation that’s based on democratic values and respect for universal rights.

In order to continue their commitment in sharing trilateral cooperation that’s grounded in shared values and regional peace, the Secretary and Foreign Ministers agreed to continue regular trilateral consultations.

The same may not be said, however, for the Foreign Ministers when they met together for their own meeting. They disagreed over the selection of a former gold and silver mine as a UNESCO World Heritage candidate, which Chung repeated Seoul’s objection due to the fact that the mine forced wartime Korean laborers to build the site.

In the 40-minute talk, Chung specified the country’s objection to the “Sado Island Gold Mines” site because its very existence would not have been made possible without the 2,000 Korean civilians who were forced into hard labor at the mine during World War II, including the exploitation of Korean women who were used for sexual servitude by Japan’s imperial army. According to the summary notes of the meeting, Hayashi told Chung that “Japan will engage in calm and respectful discussions to ensure that the extraordinary value of ‘Sado Island Gold Mines’ as a cultural heritage will be recognized in the UNESCO arena and will hold discussions in a sincere manner with the ROK side.”

The two concluded on sharing agreements on “accelerating consultations and communication through the diplomatic channels in order to restore sound Japan-ROK relations.” 


Alvin Tsuruda at his Waihale Products Nursery. (Photos by Kristen Nemoto Jay)
A speckled orange obake anthurium, a hybrid that Tsuruda created but has bleached over time due to the sun.

On Saturday, March 12, 71-year-old Alvin Tsuruda will be retiring. Sort of. He can’t seem to get away from Waihale Products Nursery — a plant farm in Waimänalo — the place he’s worked and nurtured from the ground up for 30 years. Parting from his plants and flowers he calls his “toys” that he gets to “play with” all day, everyday, will be hard, he said, but more so he’ll miss his customers that he’s met and gotten to know over the years.

“It’s the relationships that I think I’ll miss the most,” said Tsuruda as he stands in the middle of his five-acre lot, under a canopy tent that covers rows and rows of overgrown plants and flowers. He’s been absent for six months due to a freak accident at his physical therapist’s office, which left his thigh broken and knee shattered. He’s much better now, and can finally hobble without a cane, but it’s unfortunate timing with all the work he has left to do before his lease is up at the end of April. He applied to extend it but the pile-high paper stack of stipulations that the state requires, along with the decrease in sales due to the pandemic, has persuaded Tsuruda to finally retire. 

“Gee, it’s been a long time,” continued Tsuruda. “But I enjoyed it.”

Tsuruda’s experience in agriculture dates back to when he was a child. He grew up in Hale‘iwa on his family’s lotus farm. Being the only male in the family of three other sisters, Tsuruda’s job on weekends and holidays was to tend to the fields in the mud. He hated it as a child but his interest grew as an adult and stuck with him all the way through college at Leeward until he was drafted into the military. Thankfully, the Vietnam War was tapering down at that time so he was sent to Alaska for a year and a half instead. His service granted him the GI Bill, which helped him continue taking college courses and finished his degree in agronomy and horticulture science at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. He spent years working for other nursery’s until he came across the parcel of land up for a lottery in Waimänalo. He applied and, with the help from his wife at that time and part of an agriculture loan, Tsuruda was able to buy it and manage the place for all these years. Though Waihale Products has had its ups and downs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsuruda only sees the good in his time at his nursery, which has resulted in customers who’ve become lifelong friends.

“I’m grateful to have the support,” continued Tsuruda. “I’m very lucky.” 

Tsuruda has seen an uptick in visitors and sales last month as his many customers-turned friends have posted Tsuruda’s “retirement” plant sale on social media. All the proceeds, said within the description of the eventbrite.com website, will give Tsuruda “well wishes on his retirement.”

“Oh yeah I don’t know anything about that [social media] stuff,” laughed Tsuruda. “My friends wanted to do it so I let them all handle that … But boy, I’ve been getting a lot of calls. People have even come down to the nursery even though I have a rope and sign blocked off. It’s been a little busy.”

Over 30 of Tsuruda’s friends will help with the upcoming plant sale, which is in continuation from the Feb. 25 and 26 plant sale. From traffic control to managing the Venmo payments, Tsuruda’s team will have the day running smoothly. To help adhere to COVID-19 safety regulations and limited parking within the nursery, visitors have to register a time slot on eventbrite.com. Currently all time slots are sold out but there is a waitlist available. Tsuruda said additional dates and time slots will more than likely be posted until the state “kicks [him] out” come the end of April. He still has equipment to sell as well, but needs it up until he sells most of his plants. Either way Tsuruda said he’ll still be around as he’s heavily involved in the agricultural community. Retirement will allow him to volunteer more and pass down his teachings to the next generation of nursery caretakers. He’s also looking forward to traveling, working on hybridizing a few select plants, and taking up computer classes.

Tsuruda would like to thank his daughter, family and friends for everything that they’ve done to support his dream of owning and managing his nursery. He wouldn’t have been able to last this long without their help. 

Waihale Products Nursery, 41-910 Mahiku Pl. To join the waitlist for the March 12 plant sale and to get an update on possible future plant sale dates, go to eventbrite.com and type “Alvin Tsuruda” in the search box. The March 12 event will show up and will prompt you to read more. You can also email sale4waihale@gmail.com for more information or follow @waihaleproducts_auctions on Instagram to bid on larger plants, rarities and other items that are up for sale.


East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjin Kai logo. (Photo courtesy of East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjin Kai Facebook page)

Two graduating seniors, whose parent or guardian is a member of the East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjin Kai, will have a chance at obtaining a $1,000 scholarship this fall as the organization is open to those who qualify and plan on continuing their post high school education. Applicants must be a senior at any east Hawai‘i public or private high school and must enroll full time (12 credits or more) at any accredited college or university for the 2022-2023 academic year. The scholarship money may be used towards tuition, room and board, books, travel, and various other expenses that relates to the applicant’s college or university endeavor.

Preference of the member’s child will be given to the candidate with the best combination of academic, co-curricular and extracurricular achievements; one who’s deemed to have the highest potential for academic success. Special preference may be given to those who are in financial need and/or are an active participant (including the applicant’s parent or grandparent) in the East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjin Kai organization.

Application forms and instructions are available at the counselor offices at any east Hawai‘i public and private high school. The deadline for the 2022-2023 scholarships is Saturday, April 30, 2022. Applications will not be considered if it’s postmarked after that date. For more information, contact East Hawaii Hiroshima Kenjin Kai Scholarship Chair Lori Nekoba at (808) 938-6616.


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