Sister Cities Goulburn and Shibetsu maintain cultural ties

Mayor Bob Kirk with high school students who travelled to Shibetsu this year.
Mayor Bob Kirk with high school students who travelled to Shibetsu this year.

A council delegation will travel to Japan next year, accompanied by local business and community representatives.

They will be visiting Shibetsu, Goulburn’s sister city, on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Councillors at their most recent meeting endorsed the trip. They and executive staff will be invited to join the delegation at their own expense. Any other representatives will also pay their own way.

Cr Margaret O’Neill, who travelled to Shibetsu with another council party in 2014, wholeheartedly supported the decision.

“It’s a great city promotion and it’s done a lot for Goulburn,” she said.

The city, with its population of about 20,000, has had a long-standing relationship with Goulburn. Both have been Sister Cities since 1999 and before that, enjoyed a friendship agreement.

In 2013 a group comprising Shibetsu council representatives visited Goulburn for the 150th birthday celebrations. Secondary schools in both cities also undertake exchanges annually.

The council’s business services manager Brendan Hollands said this started when Japanese was an elective language on the curriculum. Although this was no longer the case, the exchange program continued and remained popular.

He suggested that July, 2018 would be an ideal time for Goulburn to visit Shibetsu, coinciding with fine weather and the city’s Shrine Festival. Mr Hollands has joined the council delegation several times, at his own expense, and has maintained contact with key people.

“It is anticipated that the majority of costs of the trip will be met by individual participants,” he wrote in his report.

“The participation of councillors and staff in the delegation would add a level of prestige  from the viewpoint of Shibetsu. Another Goulburn delegation would also show that we are committed to continuing the Sister City relationship developed over the past 20 years.”

The hosts are expected to hold several functions during the visit, which they would fund.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council plans to invite selected members of the business and general community to join the trip. If they accept, it will then ask Shibetsu Council to line up meetings with appropriate business people in that city.

In 2014, such relationships resulted in Southern Meats signing a $340,000 lamb export agreement with Shibetsu businessman, Yutaka Imai. 

Shibestu Council representatives will visit Goulburn in 2019 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Sister City relationship.

Invitations for the July, 2018 trip will be sent to business people soon to enable access to discounted airfares.

Community members interested in going are invited to email council@goulburn.nsw.gov.au with the subject line ‘Shibetsu 2018.’ Residents can also call 4823 4444 and ask to speak with Debbie McCarthy for more information.