Tamworth Region Mayor, Russell Webb and the Mayor of Japan’s Sannohe Town Council, Kasuhiko Matsuo, have signed a new Sister City Protocol as part of a three-day visit to the north-east NSW city.
“Both councils have today reaffirmed their commitment to continue to develop this unique relationship,’’ said Mayor Webb.
“While the protocol establishes guidelines for civic visits, Mayor Kasuhiko Matsuo and I are keen to discuss opportunities for how we can broaden our Sister City links through building citizen to citizen connections through cultural, business and educational exchanges.”
The Sannohe Town Council had been planning to visit Tamworth during the 50th Anniversary of the Tamworth Country Music Festival but it was not possible due to a spike in the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan during the first half of 2022.
Sannohe is one of the Tamworth region’s longest Sister City relationships, dating back to 1983 when the then Tamworth City Council started hosting an annual visit by the Sakura Princesses during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. The relationship was formalised in 2001.
Mayor Webb acknowledged local resident, Bill Forrest and his son, Allan, who played an instrumental role in building links with Sannohe. Bill was a Rotarian and Allan took part in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
Sannohe Rotarian and former councillor, Katsuyoshi Sakamoto, is among the current group of visitors, in what is his fifth visit to the country music capital.
Other members are Ryuko Kuriyagawa (councillor and Sister City Committee member who was an exchange student at Oxley High 30 years ago), Masayuki Yamada (councillor and Sister City Committee member on his first visit outside Japan) and Shogo Okuyama (a Council employee, who will be the delegation’s interpreter, on his fourth visit to Tamworth). Mayor Matsuo previously visited Tamworth in 2019.
The first matter of business today was a tree planning by the two Mayors at Tamworth Regional Botanic Gardens.
The visitors are also taking in a range of local experiences and will visit the site of the multi-million dollar Tamworth Global Gateway Park under development at Westdale.