By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii Gov. David Ige says it's a top priority for Hawaii that the U.S. be able to process Japanese travelers for immigration and customs before they even get on a plane for the islands.
Ige told tourism industry officials at a conference Thursday he heard during a recent visit to Japan that the number of Japanese travelers to Hawaii could jump 20 percent if tourists were able to clear U.S. immigration and customs while at Tokyo's Narita International Airport.
The U.S. government's preclearance program allows Customs and Border Protection officers stationed abroad to decide whether to admit passengers and their belongings before they leave a foreign port.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in May said it would begin talks to expand preclearance to 10 new foreign airports, including Narita.