Thursday, September 9, 1999

Some Hawaiians upset that
Japan’s Princess Sayako to
dedicate Mauna Kea telescope

By Susan Kreifels


Japan's Princess Sayako is looking forward to her visit to the powerful Subaru telescope atop Mauna Kea.

Sayako, who arrives Sunday for a week, will dedicate the telescope, developed by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

But some native Hawaiians oppose the dedication because they oppose development on Mauna Kea, which they consider sacred.

Originally the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii-Manoa was to host a visit by the princess, said the center's director, Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa.

Kame'eleihiwa at first saw the reception as a way to teach the princess about "the sovereignty movement, the struggle for the land. It was a way to get access to someone high in the Japanese government." But as soon as she heard about the telescope dedication, she canceled the event.

Kame'eleihiwa said she has fought the development herself, and the center has opposed it as well. She said she was sure native Hawaiians would hold demonstrations during Sayako's visit.

Ikuhiko Ono with the Japanese Consulate in Hawaii said Japanese officials expected no problems during Sayako's visit. Although he said the Japanese understood the feelings of native Hawaiians, "Subaru was built with the cooperation of so many institutions in Japan and Hawaii."

Ono said Sayako's visit to the UH-Manoa campus was not connected to the telescope.

Jim Manke, UH spokesman, said the tentative campus itinerary for Sayako's visit Tuesday includes a visit with Asian theater students who will give a kabuki performance at Kennedy Theatre, and going to the Japanese garden at the East-West Center.

The UH-Manoa stop will be followed by lunch with Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris.

This is the first visit to Hawaii for the Japanese princess. Her parents, Japan's emperor and empress, visited in 1994, and her grandfather, the late Emperor Hirohito, came in 1975.

Sayako, 30, is the only daughter of Japan's royal family. She has traveled abroad 11 times. When she's at home, she occupies her days studying birds, practicing traditional dance, giving occasional speeches, advocating the training of guide dogs -- and fueling rumors about suitors and prospective husbands.

'We would hope that she sees
herself in the fashion of Princess Di.
She will investigate what
we are saying.'

Clifford Kapono



Work began on the $300 million optical and infrared telescope in 1991 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, native Hawaiians will gather in Waimea to pay tribute to Mauna Kea on Saturday in response to the proposed expansion of astronomy facilities there, they said. "What we hope to achieve is to raise the consciousness of Hawaiians and others who hold to values higher than science," said Clifford Kapono, an organizer.

Kapono said the group does not plan any protests during Sayako's visit, nor do they target any particular astronomy organization. "We would hope that she sees herself in the fashion of Princess Di," Kapono said. "She will investigate what we are saying."

Sayako said in Tokyo that she also was interested in meeting with nature conservation experts and learning about ancient Hawaiian culture.

She complimented the accomplishments of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and of their bravery serving in the European Theater during World War II, which her parents described to her as a child.

"I also believe that the hardships of the first immigrants and the suffering of the immigrants in the complicated and severe conditions during World War II cannot be expressed in words alone," Sayako said.

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