Hawai'i Forgiveness Project

Program Information:
Hawai'i International Forgiveness Day


Seventy years ago, the most painful, violent convulsion in history ended: World War II.

In August 1945, two nuclear explosions obliterated much of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and brought Japan, America and the Allies to the beginning of an uneasy peace.

Since then, the Pacific has been transformed into an ocean that binds new allies and friends together, instead of a vessel of destructive weapons.

We want to believe that the circumstances that led to these long-ago events are safely locked in the past. That something similar could not happen today, in other places, with new enemies. But is that really true?

In Honolulu, the city from which much of the Pacific war was deployed, the Hawai'i Forgiveness Project has organized this year's Hawai'i International Forgiveness Day, August 2, 2015, to reflect on our intercultural relations today. It will be a solemn ceremony and recognition, led by individuals and community groups, and by Hawaiian leaders.

To help, we have called upon the insight of two of Hawaii's most respected leaders: Speaker Emeritus Calvin Say, former Speaker of the House, representing the Hawaii State Legislature, and former Mayor of Honolulu (the eighth-largest city in America) and Chief Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

Three new Forgiveness Heroes will be honored: they are Bishop Clarence Silva, the Bishop of Honolulu; Linda Fujikawa, author of "Guide to a Good Life;" and Matt Taufetee, former gang leader, now a respected teacher and community leader.

From the sanctuary of Kawaiaha'o Church, one of the most important historic sites for the original Hawaiian people, the following questions will be posed:

  • "What have we learned, in the past 70 years?"
  • "Are the seeds of destruction and hate that led to the nuclear explosions over Japan truly gone, from the hearts of people today?"
  • "What can we do to assure that the tragedies of the past do not repeat themselves in other forms?"
  • "Has there been deep and lasting forgiveness?"
  • "How can we move past the remaining lack of forgiveness, to live in acceptance of our varied cultures, despite the terrible struggles of the past?

The program begins with the profoundly beautiful sound of Hawaiian music legend, Aaron Mahi. Respected kupuna, Kumu Hula Hiipoi, of the Ka Imi Naauao o Hawaii Nei Hula Institute, will provide the opening oli and closing pule.

Eight previous Heroes of Forgiveness, recognized over the past 12 years by the Forgiveness Project, will return to shed light on these questions, and to revisit the paths they walked to forgiving unforgiveable situations in their lives. They are: Gwenn Ka'ilihiwa, Lorenn Walker, Kaleo Patterson, Ha'aheo Guanson, Bryan Yamashita, Sister Joan Chatfield, and Aunty Fay, and Masago Asai, who will lead her daughters in a traditional hula. Her family was devastated by the Nagasaki bomb.

At the close, there will be a dignified procession to the Nagasaki Peace Bell next to Honolulu City Hall. The memorial was established 25 years ago, and we will assemble there, for moments of invocation, sorrow, remembrance, gratitude and forgiveness.

The Kailua Christian Church has kindly made several hundred paper cranes, a symbol of the dignity of Japan that recalls the true story of Sadako Sasaki. They have donated the paper cranes to the Forgiveness Project for this event, and every participant will receive one.


Nobuko Miyake-Stoner, minister at Harris United Methodist Church, will lead the procession and ceremony at the Nagasaki Peace Bell with appropriate words, prayers and invocations.

This event will bring everyone to a profound, respectful consideration of the ties that bind us, and the responsibility that each person has to weave a tapestry of forgiveness into the lives of the people of Hawai'i, and of the world.

Entering Kawaiaha'o -- Short Video

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About the site -- historic Kawaiaha'o Church: