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HONOLULU, Hawaii (August 9, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS)---The President of Hawaii's East-West Center, Kenji Sumida, has announced plans to retire just as soon as the Center's Board of Directors selects a successor.

Sumida, who recently turned 66, has been President since 1995, taking over from China expert Michel Oksenberg and successfully leading the Center through a difficult fiscal transition period. During his tenure, US government funding was reduced more than 50 percent. The current year's federal appropriation totals $10,000,000.

Among other programs and activities, the Honolulu institution is home to the Pacific Islands Development Program. Its mission is to foster mutual understanding and cooperation among the governments and peoples of the Asia-Pacific region.

He told the Board Friday, "I have fulfilled my commitment to the Center, and it is time to move on."

Just prior to publicly announcing his retirement plans, Sumida wrote former Hawaii Governor and now East-West Center Board Chairman George Ariyoshi that the Center has "bottomed out and can look forward to better days ahead." He added, however, that "We are not entirely out of the woods, and still face the challenge of developing better understanding of, and support for the Center, particularly in the public and private sectors in Asia and the Pacific."

The President suggested to the Chairman that "what is best for the Center is a new president with a strong reputation as an academician to compliment and support your vision and leadership skills, to take the institution to still higher levels.

Sumida said he is retiring and not resigning from the East-West Center.

"I will never 'resign' from the Center," he wrote Ariyoshi, "and I intend to continue to support and assist the Center and its mission even after I finally retire from active employment status."

It is anticipated that the search for a new President will take at least six months, with plans for Sumida's successor to be in place by next spring.

Prior to his promotion to East-West Center President, Sumida served the organization in a variety of capacities beginning in 1989, including Executive Vice President, Interim President, and Vice President for Administration and Treasurer.

Earlier he held positions at the University of Hawaii, in the State of Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance, and the City and County of Honolulu Budget Office.

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