Over a three day visit last week, Tamworth Regional Council Mayor Russell Webb and Sannohe Town Council Mayor Kasuhiko Matsuo signed a new Sister City Protocol in a commitment to explore ways to broaden the relationship between the two communities.
Mayor Russell Webb and Mayor Kasuhiko Matsuo planting a tree together.
Cr Webb said while the protocol establishes guidelines for civic visits, Mayor Kasuhiko Matsuo and he are keen to discuss opportunities for how they can broaden Sister City links through building citizen to citizen connections through cultural, business and educational exchanges.
Although the Sister City relationship was only formalised in 2001, Sannohe is one of Tamworth region’s longest Sister City relationships with beginnings that date back to 1983 when the then Tamworth City Council started hosting an annual visit by the Sakura Princesses during the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Cr Webb acknowledged local resident Bill Forrest and his son Allan who played an instrumental role in building links with Sannohe through the local Rotary Club and Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
Among the visitors was Sannohe Rotarian and former councillor Katsuyoshi Sakamoto on his fifth visit to Tamworth, councillor and Sister City Committee member Ryuko Kuriyagawa who was also an exchange student at Oxley High 30 years ago, councillor and Sister City Committee member on his first visit outside Japan Masayuki Yamada, and council employee and the delegation’s interpreter Shogo Okuyama.
The signing of the new protocol occurred during a ceremony at the Tamworth Community Centre, following a tree planting by the two mayors at the Tamworth Regional Botanic Gardens.