Mina-sama Konbanwa. Good Evening everyone
To begin, I’d like to acknowledge the following people:
- Sakai Mayor Osami Takeyama
- Chair of Sakai Council Mr Daimo
- Sakai Councillors.
- Janet Lowe Deputy Head of NZ Mission in Japan
- President of the Sakai-Wellington Association, Mr Maeda, who is also the Chairman of the Sakai Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Members of the Sakai-Wellington Association
- Ladies and gentlemen
It is with great pleasure that I join with all of you this evening and celebrate our twenty years of partnership, reaffirm our appreciation of international links between Sakai and Wellington and look forward to the next twenty years.
We have a strong and prosperous city-to-city relationship between Sakai and Wellington, which builds on a foundation of very warm relations between Japan and New Zealand.
Japan is a major bilateral and regional partner of New Zealand.
Our strong ties are underpinned by a commonality of views, shared interest in stability, growth and development of the Asia Pacific region, and substantial trade, economic, tourism and people-to-people links. In 2012 Japan and New Zealand celebrated our 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Education and tourism both make a significant contribution to bilateral trade. New Zealand and Japan enjoy healthy two way flows of investment.
On this visit to Japan, Wellington City Council has met with a number of Japanese businesses including NEC, Mitsubishi and Fujitsu to find more opportunities for hitech economic growth.
Yesterday our delegation arrived in Sakai and I’m delighted to return. In 2011 Sakai was the very first place I represented our city overseas so it has a special place in my heart.
I’ve enjoyed walking along the river, exploring Harvest Hill, eating delicious Sudon noodles. This afternoon we visited the Bicycle Museum and the Education Wellington expo at the Sakai Chamber of Commerce, with fourteen Wellington education providers.
It was an honour to witness the MOU between Education Wellington International and the Osaka Southern Consortium of Universities.
These steps are possible because of the commitment and understanding of the Sakai-Wellington Association here and the Wellington-Sakai Association in New Zealand.
Many of you have spent time in Wellington and are aware of our city’s creative arts, natural beauty, closeness to nature and the compactness that make Wellington such an easy place to get around, enjoy life and do business.
Here are a few extra facts that may interest you.
As well as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Avatar was made in Wellington and there will be several Avatar sequels.
Our GDP growth at 2.5% is higher than Auckland (2.3%) and our unemployment rate is less. The average median earnings in Wellington is the highest in New Zealand, and at $65,000 is clearly ahead of the other main centres Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch. Currently we are home to 5500 overseas students choosing to study in Wellington, from over 100 countries
But it’s the people and our attitudes, more than the numbers, that tell the exciting story of Wellington. We are a World Health Organisation accredited Safe Community, the only capital city in the world to currently have this status. We are a leader in production of renewable energy, harnessing our brisk winds to supply more renewable power to the national grid than the city consumes.
And I’m proud that we are the Capital of the most socially-progressive country in the world, announced last month, which is based on indicators of personal rights and freedoms
We enjoy a very warm relationship with our sister city Sakai and it was pleasing to see how Sakai promoted our sister city relationship through the Hobbit movie.
Wellington Sakai Association and JETAA (Jet Programme Alumni Association) are preparing a giant friendship kimono made of fabric decorated by Wellington and Sakai students.
Wellington Sakai Association held a picnic at the Sakai Cherry walk in the Katherine Mansfield Park. The Japan Festival is being held again in September 2014 and we’re fortunate to host a tea ceremony group from Sakai.
I look forward to welcoming Mayor Takeyama and hope others of you will be able to make the journey to Wellington.
The Wellington- Sakai sister city relationship builds people to people links between the two cities and regions that increases cultural understanding, tourism, educational opportunities, sporting contacts, business networks and economic benefit.
As the friendship and trust has grown we can see new opportunities to share in the years ahead.
Doumo arigatou gozaimashita