Marking 30 years of friendship with Minokamo

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It was back in 1989 that then-Mayor of Dubbo Tom Slattery signed a sister city agreement with Minokamo in Japan. This year we celebrate 30 years of a fantastic relationship that has seen 400 students from Dubbo and 500 students from Minokamo experience school exchanges.  Lifelong friendships have been made, employment opportunities have been forged and we even have had a sister city marriage that have resulted in a couple of children!

Some have asked me why Dubbo and Minokamo are formally “sisters”.  Well back in the 1980s the worldwide sister city movement was gaining momentum.  It was recognised that both Dubbo and Minokamo had some similarities.  Both are on an important river, both are located in the centre of their state (Gifu prefecture in Japan) and both were a major junction of highways and railways.

Since that time the relationship has flourished. The most monumental time was the opening of Shoyoen at Elizabeth Park.  The name Shoyoen is named after Tsubouchi Shōyō and En is the Japanese word for park or garden.  Shoyo was the first person to translate Shakespeare to Japanese and was largely responsible for making the printed novel popular in Japan.  The citizens of Minokamo are immensely proud of the fact that Shoyo was born in their city!

Shoyoen was funded and built by Minokamo and each and every year they send a traditional gardener over from Minokamo to guide our staff in the traditional methods of Japanese gardens.

In recognition of our special partnership, I put to Council my idea to name the road between the gardens and the new adventure playground ‘Minokamo Way’, in recognition of our partnership.  Last weekend we unveiled the new road signs to the Minokamo delegation who visited.  The idea was to surprise them with this gesture.

However, our Japanese friends had other things in mind.  They accidently found out Dubbo’s secret plans by looking at the Council minutes and also seeing the official naming come through on the government gazette.  They quickly arranged for ‘Dubbo Road’ to be named in Minokamo and to be opened for my visit last month.  In their usual delightfully humorous way, they gazumped us and named the road after us before we unveiled ours! (If you are reading this Mayor Ito, I will beat you next time!)

In all seriousness though it is becoming a common talking point that the Dubbo-Minokamo sister city relationship is one of the best sister city relationships in the world.  And frankly, Dubbo has the model right.  Ratepayers don’t fund Councillors or the Mayor to go on official trips.  Councillors fund that by ourselves.  However we do sponsor our young students in getting over to Minokamo.  This relationship is getting stronger each and every year. 

I signed a formal agreement with Mayor Ito last month were the two cities will work together in medical cooperation and exchange as well.

The benefits of our sister city agreement should not be underestimated.  It has taught both our peoples a great deal. It has led to trade arrangements, employment opportunities and had equipped our young people for the modern world ahead.

Here is to the next 30 years of our partnership!

Last Edited: 05 Dec 2019

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