50 Years On: Kobe, Yokohama Sought Ties with China Cities ahead of Normalization


Kobe/Yokohama, Sept. 23 (Jiji Press)--Moves by Japanese prefectures and municipalities to seek friendly partnerships with local communities in China started after the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two East Asian nations in September 1972.

Kobe and Yokohama, both major port cities in Japan, were eager to conclude friendly partnerships with Chinese cities even before the diplomatic normalization.

A total of 379 prefectures and municipalities in Japan now have friendly partnership deals with Chinese counterparts. Kobe, the capital of Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, became the first of them, in 1973, followed by Yokohama, the capital of the eastern prefecture of Kanagawa, in the same year.

Then Kobe Mayor Tatsuo Miyazaki had called for the restoration of Japan-China diplomatic relations since 1971 and informed the Chinese side of his wish for exchanges between the city and a Chinese city. He visited Beijing in October 1972 and conveyed his hopes directly to then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai.

Zhou proposed the port city of Tianjin as a candidate. During negotiations on the partnership, the Chinese side requested that the words "sister cities," originating in the United States, should not be used because they suggest a hierarchical relation between the cities.

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Jiji Press