This week the Mayor, Councillors and representatives from many local organisations, have been hosting a delegation from Coffs Harbour’s Sister City Sasebo to mark the 30 year anniversary of our very successful and enduring relationship.
The anniversary of this important international bond was an opportunity to highlight the wealth of goodwill between the two cities and the benefits of the exchange of ideas, knowledge, community awareness and tourism.
Equally significant was the chance to strengthen the many current and past friendships enjoyed by the civic leaders from both cities and the broader community.
A major focus of the Coffs Harbour-Sasebo Sister City partnership has always been the chance for young people and educators from both communities to experience life in a new and exciting culture, as well as undertake longer-term educational openings.
Whole generations of school and university students have benefited from the opportunities presented by our links to study and explore each other’s countries.
As a result, Southern Cross University has become a popular choice for overseas study by students from Japan and we’ve welcomed thousands of visitors from Sasebo to Coffs Harbour during the same decades.
Sister City relationships were originally based on a simple desire to create ties to encourage cultural understanding, friendship and exchange.
But they also possess a much greater potential to develop – sometimes unexpected – economic or wellbeing benefits to both communities.
The Botanic Garden’s Japanese Garden is probably the single most visible example of how we’ve profited from our association with Sasebo.
Not only were we, and the Friends of the Botanic Garden, able to tap into cultural expertise provided by our colleagues in Sasebo to create a faithful reproduction of a traditional Japanese Garden and Tea House, but the project also provided Coffs Harbour with a popular and unique venue and community facility.
The very popular Japanese Festival of Children’s Day, which brings thousands of visitors to the city every year, is also a direct result of our Sister City relationship and the links it has created throughout both communities.
Promoting mutual respect, understanding and cooperation through Coffs Harbour’s links with Sasebo has benefited both cities over the past 30 years, but as the world continues to move ever closer towards a more integrated global economy, it is more important than ever.