July 25, 2024

Gov. Josh Green is in Japan this week to meet with government officials and business leaders in an effort to boost tourism by reducing barriers to travel between Japan and Hawaii.


What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Josh Green continues to push for pre-clearance status between Hawaii and partner airports such as Haneda Airport in Tokyo
  • Green is also seeking to expand Global Entry for Japanese citizens
  • Global Entry status for Japanese citizens has been capped at 1,500
  • The U.S. and Japanese governments are working together to remove the cap by the end of the year

“Japan and the Japanese people are part of our ohana due to our historic connections, economic ties and culture, and we are committed to enhancing travel through our ‘Travel Corridor’ concept,” Green said in a statement released Monday. “By expanding Global Entry, integrating biometric screening, and pursuing preclearance status, we are making travel more efficient, convenient and secure for Japanese citizens visiting Hawaii.”

While the local tourism industry has stayed afloat in the post-pandemic period thanks to increased visitor arrivals from the continental United States, experts say the long-term health of the industry is still dependent on Japanese tourism, which has been slow to recover.

Green continues to push for pre-clearance status between Hawaii and partner airports such as Haneda Airport in Tokyo. Administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, pre-clearance allows travelers to undergo customs and immigration inspections at their departure airport rather than upon arrival in the United States.

According to the Green administration, the program has proved successful in streamlining the travel process, reducing wait times and enhancing the overall travel experience at the 15 international locations across six partner countries in which it has been implemented.

Green is also seeking to expand Global Entry for Japanese citizens. The program, also administered by CBP, expedites the customs and immigration process for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States by eliminating processing lines and paperwork, reducing wait times and granting travelers the Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check status.

Global Entry status for Japanese citizens has been capped at 1,500. The U.S. and Japanese governments are working together to remove the cap by the end of the year.

In addition, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is working to adopt advanced biometric collection for use with CBP’s Mobile Passport Control. In a release issued on Monday, the governor’s office said biometric screening technology, “offers a secure and efficient means of verifying travelers’ identities and improving border security, while expediting the screening process and reducing costs.’

Green flew to Japan on March 15 and is scheduled to return to Hawaii on Saturday. Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke will continue to serve as acting governor in his absence.

Michael Tsai covers local and state politics for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at [email protected].

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