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CSS Dean Denise Eby Konan, Economics Professor Nori Tarui and Koichiro Iwasaki, CSS alumnus

Japanese businessman Koichiro Iwasaki, who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in the 1970s, has pledged $200,000 to the College of Social Sciences (CSS) to encourage educational and socio-economic pathways between Hawaiʻi and Kagoshima, Japan.

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Koichiro Iwasaki

Iwasaki’s endowment pledge will support the CSS Japan-Hawaiʻi Socio-Economic Innovation Initiative (JHSEII), which integrates Nikkei, Hawaiian and U.S. cultural perspectives into a dynamic learning platform based on academic/research discovery and international collaboration.

The initiative focuses on four hallmark programs designed to promote a stronger understanding of global socio-economic issues while embracing a model of corporate social responsibility:

  • Socio-economic dialogue: Students, faculty and businesspeople interact with researchers and scholars on socio-economic challenges and their solutions, particularly in the areas of clean-energy transition, climate change adaptation, captive insurance and tourism impacts.
  • Mutual student exchange: UH Mānoa and Japan-based university students attend virtual and/or in-person classes to promote people-to-people relations and intercultural understanding.
  • Sustainable tourism enhancement: Multifaceted sustainable tourism-based training for Japan employees, mid-level managers or top leadership is offered virtually or on the UH Mānoa campus. Topics range from development of human resources, to assessing and managing beach overcrowding.
  • Disaster risk response and environmental global stewardship: Participants explore the necessity of advance planning to confront natural and man-made hazards threatening life, property and a sense of well-being; and raising sustainability and climate standards in a resource-fragile world.

“As a CSS economics undergraduate, I admired my many stellar professors, especially Seiji Naya, who is considered a pioneer in the study of Asian economic cooperation. My experience in Hawaiʻi helped to shape my global business perspective and fostered the aloha spirit in my corporate dealings,” said Iwasaki, president and CEO of Shigetomi Shoji Co. Ltd. based in Kagoshima. “I am establishing this endowment to benefit my UH alma mater and my hometown, Kagoshima, through education- and economic-based activities. I hope other CSS alumni in Japan, and Japan-based companies with ties to Hawaiʻi, will do the same.”

Denise Eby Konan, CSS dean and economics professor, added, “Dr. Iwasaki’s lead gift comes at a critical time as we launch JHSEII. We are appreciative of his inspirational leadership to support and promote a better understanding of international socio-economic issues in Japan and Hawaiʻi, while developing shining examples of corporate social responsibility.”

More information on Iwasaki’s background and remembrances of Hawaiʻi is available on the CSS website.

Gift donations

To contribute online to JHSEII, go to the UH Foundation website, select UH Mānoa and input fund ID number 13003204 (College of Social Sciences, Japan-Hawaiʻi Socio-Economic Innovation Initiative).

To contribute online to JHSEII in Japan, contact Nori Tarui, professor and graduate chair of the Department of Economics, and bilingual senior advisor to the dean on Global College Initiatives, at or (808) 956-8427.

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