Many of you know we have a Sister City, Hekinan, Japan. Edmonds established the relationship with Hekinan 30 years ago. Our mayor at the time, Larry Naughten, led the effort to bring the two cities together. Over time the relationship has continued to grow and mature. Each year we send students and chaperones to Hekinan for two weeks, and they in turn send a student delegation to Edmonds. What a wonderful way to introduce our young people to a new culture. The students in both cities leave their host city with a richer and better understanding of another culture.
Although we do not have an adult exchange each year, we do have an adult exchange every five years. We have assembled an adult delegation to go to Hekinan the first week in April. The Japanese will visit Edmonds later in the year. My wife Susan and I will lead the delegation again as we did five years ago. (And for the curious, each member pays all of their own expenses… including the mayor.)
This year we leave on March 31 and return on April 6. I am pleased we can attend and celebrate two very special occasions. The first celebration is to honor the 30th Anniversary of our Sister City relationship. The second is Hekinan’s celebration of their 70th Anniversary.
The city of Hekinan was formed in 1948 with three smaller cities coming together. Like Edmonds, they have a seaside setting, but their population is larger than ours with over 70,000 residents versus ours of over 41,000.
The city, with its major express ways and national highways, quickly formed after World War II and has more of an industrial base than ours. They have a major thermal energy plant, which is the energy supplier for major industry such as Toyota automobiles. The Toyota plant in Hekinan is highly automated and employs over 1,700 people.
Their form of governance has an elected mayor and city council. Unlike our council with seven members, their council has 26 members! As I recall, they have some of the positions elected and others appointed and they meet for several days in a row, but only a few times a year.
The Mayor of Hekinan, Masanobu Negita, and I have established a great, fun, international relationship. Mayor Negita and I quickly found out we have the same sense of humor. He loves to tease, as do I. I look forward to seeing him again.
While in Hekinan, our delegation will participate in the formal celebration of their 70th Anniversary as well as the less-formal celebration of our Sister City relationship. I especially look forward to the 70th Anniversary Celebration as it is very formal and impressive.
We will also visit their City Hall, the Chubu Thermal Power Plant and the Toyota automobile factory. For a bit of tourist activity, we will visit the Tatsukichi Fujii Contemporary Art Museum, the Okazaki Castle Cherry Blossom Festival, and take a day trip to Kyoto.
I must say the reception we received when in Hekinan five years ago was spectacular! Friendly and gracious hosts, wonderful volunteers, and a well-coordinated schedule kept us busy from morning to evening. This year’s itinerary looks to be as ambitious and compact as five years ago. Our nine-member delegation will return April 6, well rewarded… and tired.
— By Dave Earling, Mayor of Edmonds