City of Rockingham delegation visit strengthens ties to Japanese sister city Ako

Staff ReporterSound Telegraph
City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels presents His Excellency Governor Toshizo Ido, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, with a letter from Premier Mark McGowan.
Camera IconCity of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels presents His Excellency Governor Toshizo Ido, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, with a letter from Premier Mark McGowan. Credit: City of Rockingham

A delegation from the City of Rockingham is in Japan this week for a series of meetings to strengthen the long-standing sister city relationship between the cities of Ako and Rockingham.

The cities of Rockingham and Ako have been engaged in a mutually beneficial sister city relationship since April 1997, and for more than 20 years representatives from both cities have visited each other, with a small delegation from Rockingham travelling to Ako in Hyogo Prefecture earlier this week.

The $35,000 trip has been a point of contention this year, with ratepayers speaking out against the trip at numerous council meetings and a petition being handed to council calling for councillors to self-fund the trip rather than spend ratepayers’ money.

However in April the council voted 6-4 in favour of sending a six-person delegation, pointing out the relationship had brought the City several cultural benefits and was a small expense in a city budget of $170 million.

A delegation from Ako last visited Rockingham in August 2016.

Mayor Barry Sammels said the visit to Ako played a vital role in strengthening the sister-city relationship.

During this week’s visit the delegation from Rockingham has met with Ako city officials to explore possibilities for wide ranging improvements for both communities.

Topics of discussion have included employment, economic development, tourism, aged care, disability services, rubbish disposal and recycling, as well as responding to climate change and the future of the Ako–Rockingham exchange.

The delegation also had the privilege of meeting with His Excellency Governor Toshizo Ido, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture. During this meeting Mr Sammels presented Governor Ido with a letter from Premier Mark McGowan.

In his letter to Governor Ido, Mr McGowan said he hoped the visit would provide positive improvements and outcomes for both communities.

He also indicated his desire to see the relationship between Ako and Rockingham continue to thrive, along with other sister-city relationships involving cities in Hyogo Prefecture.

“The meetings we have had with Governor Ido and many Ako city officials have given the delegation useful insights, ideas and knowledge that we can apply at home,” Mr Sammels said.

“While both cities have vastly different histories, we both share the need to develop in areas like tourism, employment and economic development. Issues surrounding climate change, aged care and disability services are all universal, so by working together we can we can make lasting improvements to both of our communities.”

Upon their return, each member of the delegation will provide a written report to council via the Global Friendship Committee to highlight the outcomes of the visit.

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