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POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Japan's royalty will visit Hawaii

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will attend events on Oahu and the Big Island during a four-day Hawaii visit next month.

Their official July 14-17 visit will follow an 11-day trip to Canada. The trip was announced in March and confirmed last week by the Japanese government.

The royal couple will attend a banquet at the Hilton Hawaiian Village marking the 50th anniversary of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation, which provides cross-cultural studies for students in the United States and Japan. They will also lay a wreath at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Punchbowl, and attend a luncheon at Washington Place with Gov. Linda Lingle.

On July 16, Big Island residents will be invited to a reception at Parker Ranch, co-hosted by the ambassador of Japan and the Japanese consul-general in Hawaii.

Akihito and his wife made their last official visit to Hawaii in 1994.

Valley Isle's government phone lines go on the blink

County government telephone lines were out of order yesterday on Maui, requiring emergency calls to be re-routed through the police dispatch system on Molokai.

The system, which remained down into the evening, crashed sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. yesterday, county spokeswoman Mahina Martin said.

Martin said the cause of the outage was under investigation, including unconfirmed reports of a cut in a fiber-optic line.

On Oahu, a glitch in the state Department of Labor's Unemployment Claims automated phone system caused the system to go down Sunday evening until about 2:30 p.m. yesterday. When claimants called in, they weren't connected to operators. The glitch also tripped up some Internet filing as well, said Ryan Markham, department spokesman.

Star-Bulletin reporter wins prize for 'Sithan's Journey'

The Asian American Journalists Association is honoring Honolulu Star-Bulletin reporter and assistant city editor Craig Gima for his coverage of a Cambodian teenage girl's year of living in Honolulu to receive medical treatment for her badly deformed leg.

Gima's coverage of Sithan Leam's plight won the award in the “;Online-Asian American, Pacific Islander issues”; category of the AAJA's 2009 National Journalism Awards. The series, “;Sithan's Journey,”; included online video reports produced, narrated and edited by Gima.

The awards honor nine journalists in different categories for covering “;the news with authority, sensitivity, insight and an eye toward diversity,”; AAJA officials said in a written statement.

Gima and the other award winners will be honored at the AAJA's Gala Scholarship and Awards Banquet in Boston on Aug. 15.

Help asked on regulation of reef fish

Hawaii's fishing regulators are asking the public for input on how to regulate the fishing of overharvested species, including parrotfish, goatfish and jacks.

These fish help maintain healthy coral reefs, so overfishing is a source of concern for the state.

The state has not yet drafted any rule changes.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources said public meetings held in Kailua-Kona, Hilo, Kahului and Lihue this month will focus on proposals to use minimum size rules to regulate catch. State officials also hope to discuss using daily bag limits.

The meeting schedule is:

» Kailua-Kona, tomorrow, 6-8:30 p.m., Konawaena Elementary School cafeteria

» Maui, Thursday, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Maui Waena School cafeteria

» Hilo, June 22, 6-9 p.m., County of Hawaii Aupuni Center

» Kauai, June 26, 6-8:30 p.m., Kauai Community College, Electronics Technology building, room 114.