Category Archives: politics

Make A Law Alive Through The Arts


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When you pass a law as a politician, people will say you did it for votes.

When you argue the law as a lawyer, they will say you did it to win.

But when you make a law alive through the arts, people will see it is from your heart.

– Jon Riki Karamatsu, 5/11/2017 –

#law #laws #policy #policies #politician #lawyer #attorney #artist #art #arts #writing #creativewriting #fiction #novel #novels #movie #movies #film #films #show #shows #drama #dramas #music #drawing #drawings #painting #paintings #quote #quotes #poem #poems #poetry #artist #artists #jonrikikaramatsu #jonriki

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Memory of Making Seniors Chant “Let’s rock!”


7 years ago from today in 2010, while I was a politician, I made a speech at the Hawaii State Capitol to a big crowd of seniors from organizations that looked out for the interest of our elderly. When I shouted, “Are you ready to rock?” They yelled back, “Let’s rock!” I got them to this 3 times and our chant echoed throughout the capitol halls. It was so funny! Still can’t believe I made them do that! ūüėÖ #politics #politician #hawaii #hawaiipolitics #hawaiirepresentative #houseofrepresentatives #chanting  #letsrock

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Succeed, Fail, and Come Back


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Let’s succeed, fail, and come back. ¬†Anytime we take action on a goal, we expose ourselves to attack and even failure, but the rewards are tremendous in that we gain ideas, knowledge, skills, relationships, and heck, even success. ¬†I say succeed until you fail, and fail until you succeed because the comebacks are¬†some of the best¬†feelings ever!

Since I was a child, my parents have always encouraged me to try many things. “If you don’t try, you will never know” was the lesson I learned. ¬†So I participated in¬†many sports, school clubs, and community organizations. ¬†When I grew up, I went after my goals in law, politics, and business. ¬†I even made an effort in my love life. ¬†Did I win? ¬†Yes, many times, but I also had my share of losses. ¬†I’ll tell you a few¬†of my¬†experiences.

When I was attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1995, I broke up with my first girlfriend. ¬†I was so sad that my grade point average plummeted from a B average to a D average at which time¬†I was placed on probation. ¬†If I didn’t raise my grade point average, I would be kicked out of the university. ¬†I went to visit one of the university’s counselors. ¬†“What do you want to be?” she asked.

“I want to be a lawyer,” I answered.

She looked down at my grades on the transcript and then she looked back at me. “Do you like working with people?”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you become a social worker?”

I was quiet. I wonder what my expression may have looked like?

For the next couple of years, I attained mostly all “A”s for every semester except for a few “B”s here and there. ¬†I brought by grade point average back up to a B average and graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.A. in Political Science.

In 2001, I ended up¬†attending Gonzaga University School of Law and graduating with my J.D., passing the Hawaii State Bar Association’s examination, and today, I’m a lawyer.

In politics, I ran for a Hawaii State House seat in 2002 for a community I was unfamiliar with. ¬†I was told that I would likely lose because two of the so-called front-runner opponents were well-known and professionally established. ¬†I was only twenty-seven years old, just out of law school with very little experience, and no name recognition. ¬†Plus, the demographics were not in my favor, and another opponent was young like me with a similar background so we would cancel¬†each other out. ¬†However, I had typed out my strategy and platform for bettering Hawaii many years before while in college so I was mentally prepared. ¬†My front-runner opponents bragged about their experience while I focused on what I was going to achieve for our community and the State of Hawaii. ¬†To counter my opponents’ name recognition, I walked door-to-door around my district 3 times, which was about 20,000 visitation of homes until I burned holes in my pants from the constant rubbing of my bag filled with brochures. ¬†I won the House seat by a good margin.

Years later in 2010, I ran for the Lieutenant Governor’s race and loss, but the newly elected Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith M. Kaneshiro recruited me to become a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and Legislative Liaison because he had watched me¬†in action¬†as the House Judiciary Chairman as I took on very controversial issues like same-sex marriage while he was an attorney with my Senate counterpart, his good friend who I had some disagreements with but I alway tried to be professional with him.

In 2015, I resigned from the Honolulu Prosecutor’s office because of a driving under the influence charge, which I have won the civil side of the case in 2016 because of false information and wrong-doings by the police, but still awaiting an appeal from the higher court on the criminal side of the case after a district court judge ruled that my testimony was not credible, which did not make sense because I didn’t testify in the trial. ¬†Despite it being a traffic crime, he sentenced me to prison with maximum fines and community service, much more than what I’ve seen when I¬†litigated criminal cases such as assault.

Instead of worrying about my legal woes, I dedicated 100% of my efforts into the private sector. ¬†I had ended my Internet retail business in 2012 after 10 years but I was still involved with a couple of business partners in an event production company since 2014. ¬†I then helped to build a night club, assisted an agricultural company in its goal to build a value-added agricultural processing plant, joined a team to build an aviation company, partnered with another group to build a consulting¬†company for foreign investors, and several¬†other projects. ¬†Meanwhile, in my role as a litigating and transactional attorney, I took on a few clients who were undergoing a business partnership split. ¬†In my 2 years since leaving government, I experienced a business partner who took all the money and left the rest of us with nothing, another who didn’t sign an agreement that would give me a tiny share of the company after I helped build it, and another who had child¬†custody¬†legal issues so the company was placed on hold. ¬†To some, these losses could be seen as a failure. ¬†I may have not made money from these ventures, however, I gained a lot of skills, built new relationships, and have come up with¬†ideas for when I make my return to these sectors.¬† There are many “wins” within such failures.

On the bright side, the aviation company and consulting company for foreign investors¬†are moving forward with business partners that make a great team, and I’m still working on my creative writing projects and taking on some legal work. ¬†With any start-up company, there is a risk of losing time and money, but there is also the opportunity to create new services and products that will generate more jobs and revenue for our community. ¬†It is for these reasons that I continue my journey in these arenas.

Both “success” and “failure” are just as important. ¬†Wins are fun, but if we always got what we wanted in life, we wouldn’t appreciate it as much, and life would become boring. ¬†For it is the experiences of the journey that makes us appreciate the wins. ¬†We gain¬†ideas, knowledge, skills, and relationships regardless if we succeed or fail, therefore, by the looks of it, we still win even when we lose.

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Opening day of the 2017 Hawaii Legislative Session.


Opening ceremonies of the 2017 Hawaii Legislative Session on January 18, 2017.

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Nice talk with my friend in my dream, the late U.S. Congressman K. Mark Takai.


I woke up this morning of Thursday January 5, 2017 from a wonderful dream in which I had a great talk with Congressman K. Mark Takai who I became friends with while I was a student government leader at the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa (ASUH) and Mark was a young newly elected politician in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. In my dream, Mark and I were talking in his old townhouse in Waiau, Pearl City on Oahu, Hawaii.  We were smiling and laughing like the times when we first met.

At one point we were lying down and staring at the ceiling as we chatted.  It was like before I got elected into the Hawaii State House of Representatives, which distanced our relationship because I was part of the faction aligned with Hawaii House Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say, a family friend and friend of my late grandfather Maurice Karamatsu.  Speaker Say married the daughter of grandpa Karamatsu’s really close friend Stephen Kotake, founder of Kotake Shokai, an import company, and a leader at Jodo Shu Hawaii with my grandfather.  I became good friends with Speaker Say, and I know that was hard on Mark because his faction was trying to take over the House from him.

Well in my dream, Mark and I were friends like before the whole political faction issue.  Prior to Mark passing away on July 20, 2016, I had called his cell phone and left a heartfelt message for him.  I’m not sure if he listened to it.  I’m hoping that he did.  It’s for this reason that I never felt closure with Mark because I wanted him to know that I really enjoyed our times together and that I cared deeply for him as my friend even though we ended up in opposite political factions.  In my dream, it felt so good because I knew that the politics didn’t matter anymore to him – all that mattered was our friendship.  That was the talk I wanted to have before Mark passed away.  I miss him.

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War Tore Me Apart


War tore me apart.

Anger took over my heart,

until I met you.

– Jon Riki Karamatsu, 11/19/2016, Haiku #33 –

[My 2nd novel that I’m working on inspired me to write this Haiku poem.]

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I dedicate this picture of pink clouds and song to my friend Representative Clift Tsuji.


I’m crying as I type this entry in dedication to my friend Clift Tsuji, Hawaii State Representative from Hilo, Hawaii. He passed away today, November 15, 2016. He had an amazing life as a politician, banker, and businessman. Below, you will see a picture of pink clouds among blues skies that I took yesterday, just after I found out Rep. Tsuji was taken to the hospital. I also dedicate the song below to Rep. Tsuji, “Shelter” by Porter Robinson & Madeon. The lyrics touches¬†my heart: “It’s a long way forward, trust in me. I’ll give them shelter, like you’ve done for me. And I know I’m not alone, you’ll be watching over us until you’re gone.”

I will continue to seek your guidance as I carry on forward.

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Rep. Clift. Tsuji & Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu during conferences.

I will miss my dear friend Clift Tsuji, Hawaii State Representative from Hilo, Hawaii. This is one of my favorite pictures of Representative Clift Tsuji and I – caught candidly as we were in the middle of conference hearings while I was serving as a Hawaii State Representative. I enjoyed my time with him, our travels to Japan, and collaborating with him in creating laws and programs. When I ran for Lt. Governor, he had me sleep at his house in Hilo, Hawaii. After I left politics, Rep. Tsuji supported my private sector projects and gave me valuable encouragement. We regularly hung out or had meals with friends. One of my funniest moments with him was when he tried to introduce me to a girl in a shopping mall in Japan, and I literally ran away. He would always tell everyone how I sprinted and leaped away in the busy mall. It’s hard to believe that I can’t talk with him anymore, but I know he will still be with me as I proceed forward.

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Rep. Clift Tsuji Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say, & Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu at the 2009 Legislative Opening Day on Jan. 21, 2009.

Rep. Clift Tsuji, Speaker Calvin K.Y. Say and Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

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At Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Bon Dance

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Rep. Clift Tsuji, Kazue Uehara, Rep. Jerry L. Chang, and Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu

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