City of Newcastle celebrates Japanese Sister City agreement

22 Nov 2023

The four-decade relationship between City of Newcastle (CN) and its Sister City in Japan has been commemorated in person thanks to the visit of a delegation from Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the milestone being marked in 2020, making it almost 43 years to the day since Newcastle's first female Lord Mayor, the late Joy Cummings, joined the Mayor of Ube to sign the agreement.

Current Ube Mayor Keiji Shinozaki, his fellow councillors and members of the Ube-Newcastle Sister City Friendship Society were greeted by Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Councillor Elizabeth Adamczyk, Councillor Margaret Wood and Councillor Katrina Wark at Blackbutt Reserve, where a tree was planted to commemorate the 40th anniversary before the Japanese delegation had the chance to meet some local wildlife.

Cr Nelmes said the relationship between the two cities has delivered countless benefits over the years.

"Despite being 7,700 kilometres apart, Newcastle and Ube have developed strong connections in education, youth exchange, economics, sport and art, with Newcastle Art Gallery holding one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics outside Japan," Cr Nelmes said.

"Local high schools such as Newcastle, Merewether, Kotara and Wallsend have participated in annual student exchanges with Ube, which provide an immersive cultural experience, while the University of Newcastle's Language Centre embraces Japanese language, art and culture.

"There's an event called the Newcastle Fair in Ube, where visitors can experience the cultural aspects of Newcastle. In 2019, Ube City gifted the winners of the Japanese Speech Contest held in Newcastle a trip to attend this fair.

"I'm proud to represent City of Newcastle and continue the legacy of Joy Cummings, who was instrumental in the establishment of the Sister City link, believing the port harbour cities with similar populations and industrial backgrounds in coal exports and steel manufacturing had much in common."

A symbolic exchange of gifts took place 43 years ago with City of Newcastle presenting Ube officials with an inscribed plaque bearing the city's coat of arms, while Ube provided Newcastle with a Kabuto (Samurai Helmet).

That tradition continued when Mayor Shinozaki and the Japanese delegation attended a welcome reception and dinner on Monday at City Hall, where more gifts were exchanged and a treaty was signed to recommit the Sister City relationship.

The tour of Newcastle continued on Tuesday with the Ube City officials visiting the CSIRO Energy Centre at Mayfield West, the Port of Newcastle, Nihon University's Newcastle Campus and the Anzac Memorial Walk.

CN currently has three other adopted Sister City relationships including the Californian city of Arcadia, the English city of Newcastle upon Tyne, and the central western NSW town of Dubbo.

The relationships are designed to promote and encourage friendship and cooperation between local governments, business leaders and the wider community, in addition to facilitating cultural exchange programs and economic development.