Nelson and Miyazu Sister Cities: Celebrating a very old friendship in a very modern way

05/05/2021 10:44am

Mayor Rachel Reese and members of the Nelson Sister City Co-ordinating Group celebrated 45 years of friendship with the Japanese city of Miyazu on a Zoom call with Mayor Kizaki Masafumi on Monday 3 May.

Sister Cities was established by United States President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, as a means of promoting world peace through people-to-people relationships. Since then, it has grown to be an internationally-recognised organisation.

Mayor Reese said the Zoom call was an opportunity to reaffirm the strong links between the two cities, and the endurance of this special relationship.

“Face-to-face connection across borders is so important while COVID-19 restricts international travel. We must remember how we all have common goals, interests and needs at a time when international co-operation has never been more important.”

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Mayor Reese and Mayor Masafumi took the chance to reflect on the warmth and significance of the Sister City relationship, with residents from Nelson and Miyazu hosting each other on numerous occasions over the decades.

In 1987, delegates from Miyazu came to Nelson to attend the opening of the Maitai Dam. A few years later, a working holiday scheme was established to allow young people to easily visit between the two cities.

In 2014, Mayor Reese visited Miyazu to celebrate their 60th anniversary as a city, and in 2016, a delegation led by Deputy Mayor Ueda visited Nelson for the relationship’s 40th Anniversary.

“I treasured the opportunity to experience the culture of our Sister City first-hand,” Mayor Reese said of her visit to Miyazu.

“The hospitality shown to me by the residents of Miyazu was heartwarming, a real reminder of the importance of being able to share in this sort of cultural exchange.”

Mayor Reese said the celebrations are a reminder of the mutually beneficial role Sister City relationships have for both communities.

“I believe there is significant potential to grow joint trade and business ventures, as well as numerous opportunities for shared learning and development. We all have different ways of expressing ourselves through music, dance, food, celebration and worship, but I sincerely believe we have more in common as people than not.”