Hawaii Seeks Preclearance System at Japan Airports by 2025; Governor Cites Haneda As Most Likely Venue

Kayo Goto / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green speaks during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in Honolulu on Wednesday.

HONOLULU — Hawaii hopes to introduce a preclearance system that will allow Japanese visitors to complete immigration procedures at major Japanese airports such as Haneda and Narita, Gov. Josh Green said during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday.

Green said Hawaii is working with the U.S. federal government to put more effort into negotiations with the Japanese government, in a bid to implement the system in Japan by early 2025.

“I envision a corridor between Japan and Hawaii that is much simpler where people can get their preclearance and then come for several years on that preclearance,” the governor expressed his hope to increase both short-term tourists and people who stay longer for business and other purposes.

Green cited Haneda and Narita Airports as the most likely venues to set up the system. The aim is to increase the number of direct flights from Japan to Hawaiian islands and attract more Japanese visitors, whose number has fallen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of the logistics have always eluded our two countries,” Green said. He added it would take “at least a year” to finalize the details of the envisaged system.

According to Hawaii state statistics, about 1.576 million people visited the Hawaiian islands from Japan in 2019, but the figure plunged to about 19,000 in 2021.

Visitor numbers have been recovering this year but are only expected to reach about 583,000, or less than 40% of the total in 2019.