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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

TRANSITIONS: Part 12B--University of Hawaii--PICHTR Anecdotes

Part 12A on the Pacific International Center for High Technology Center (PICHTR) was posted last week.  Today, a few more anecdotes on the founding of PICHTR.

When I returned to the University of Hawaii in 1982, John Shupe essentially traded positions with Paul Yuen, gaining the directorship of the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and passing on to Paul the deanship of the College of Engineering.  The two years or so Paul and I spent inventing PICHTR, I might add, involved a couple of other key factors/relationships/circumstances:
  • GOLF:  When Paul and I first met with Honolulu Counsel General (CG, for Japan) Mitsuro Donowaki, he sat imperiously at his desk in front of a large Japanese flag.  He was cool to our presentation and the only discussion subject that seemed to lighten him was golf.  So after we returned to our office, Paul and I decided to ask them out for a golfing session.  We got a time at the Pali Golf Course, so I called Donawaki's aide to invite them to join us.  He said he would check with the CG.  He called me back and rather assertively indicated that they instead would like the two of us to come to Oahu Country Club, and we should bring a change of clothing, for golf would be followed by a shower and dinner.  The faux pas I made, which turned out to be just about right, was my remarking something to the effect that I guess you don't like to golf at public golf courses.  In a way, they were sufficiently abashed that they welcomed joining us for a visit to the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority on the Big Island with golf at the Maunalani Golf Course.  This experience broke the ice and the four of us became good friends.  More so, their intelligence was so advanced that they kept passing on to us crucial information about what to do, and not, and kept inviting us to various activities at the Japanese Consulate.  Almost a third of a century later, Ambassador Donowaki still attends PICHTR board meetings in Honolulu.
  • Paul Yonamine:  Son of Wally Yonamine, a local boy who went on to fame as baseball player and coach in Japan, Paul created Sanki to serve as the go-between for PICHTR.  He had some important connections in the Hawaii Legislature that smoothed the way for continued funding.  More so, as he had lived part of his life in Japan, he personally took us to Japan and was interpreter and cultural teacher for us.  He is now General Manager of IBM Japan and serves on the U.S.-Japan Council.
  • Richard Matsuura, Ann Kobayashi and Mamoru Yamasaki were State Senators key to the success of PICHTR.  They, further, aided me in my direct requests about funding for the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, something the University of Hawaii abhorred.  Richard had a PhD and worked on the Green Revolution for Norman Borlaug, founder of the Green Revolution.  Richard and I wrote the first paper for the Blue Revolution.  Ann is now Budget Committee Chairman for the Honolulu City Council.


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