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Successful City Diplomacy: Tainan and Yamagata Sign Friendship Cities Agreement


Acting Tainan Mayor Li Men-yen and his delegation of Tainan City Government officials headed northeast and visited Yamagata City on Dec 6, 2017. They were received warmly by local officials. Tainan City and Yamagata City officially signed the Friendship City Agreement with Yamagata City, with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan Political Sector Chief Xiang Ming-de as a witness. Both sides expressed expectations to see more frequent collaborations in the future. Premier William Lai also recorded a video clip to convey his congratulations and best wishes to the signing. Chief Xiang Ming-de, who attended on behalf of Representative Frank Hsieh, also read out the congratulatory remarks from the Representative on the signing ceremony.  

Yamagata City is situated in the northeast region of Japan and is also where the Yamagata Prefectural Office is located. Under the leadership of Mayor Satou Takahiro, the city rolled out policies which encourage young people to return to their hometown and start businesses and/or cultural and creative related enterprises. This solution is similar to the development goals of Tainan. Interactions between the two cities date back to 1993, when the Yamagata Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Tainan Importers & Exporters Chamber of Commerce signed the agreement to become sister organizations. Twenty-five years of interactions formed a deep friendship which extended from the private sector to the public sector and eventually led to exchanges between the city governments. Last year (2016), Yamagata City Mayor Satou Takahiro and Chairman Seino Nobuaki of the Yamagata Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed a delegation to visit Tainan’s then-Mayor William Lai, and both parties began discussions on signing a MOU between the two cities. 

The MOU signed by Tainan and Yamagata City encompasses five major sectors: tourism, economy, culture, education, and sports. Hopefully this MOU will lead to stronger and more diverse interactions, stimulate city development, and encourage friendships and exchanges in the private sectors of both cities. 
Acting Mayor Li pointed out that Tainan and Yamagata City share more than two decades of friendship and the local governments are happy to facilitate official interactions. The two cities have many similarities, for example, both have famous hot spring destinations and produce high-quality agricultural goods; and after signing the agreement, the two cities can form stronger partnerships and learn from each other. Both cities will collaborate to promote more interactions between the private and public sectors of Tainan and Yamagata City. 
Yamagata City Mayor Satou Takahiro expressed that the signing of the agreement will effectively enhance the friendship between the two cities, facilitate more in-depth exchanges, and introduce Tainan’s beauty to more Yamagata citizens. Mayor Satou especially mentioned that during the 120th anniversary of the Yamagata Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tainan Importers & Exporters Chamber of Commerce also sent over a delegation to congratulate them. He expressed his thanks for this gesture and said that this is proof that both sides are good friends. 
Before the signing ceremony, Acting Mayor Li visited important government officials and representatives from local businesses and media, including Yamagata City Mayor Satou Takahiro, Yamagata City Council Speaker Watanabe Hajime, Yamagata Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairperson Seino Nobuaki, and Yamagata News Agency Director Sagae Hiroji. In addition to expressing Tainan’s gratitude for the support from numerous sectors in Yamagata City, Li hoped that through the joint effort of both sides, Tainan and Yamagata City will see more interactions in the future.