The District of Sooke and Natori, Japan, want to make their relationship a thing.
The two cities hope to begin negotiations this year to formalize a sister city agreement. A friendship city arrangement is already in place.
Although the terms sister city and friendship city are often used interchangeably, generally, friendship city relationships are mayor-to-mayor agreements that do not require city council approval. Sister cities participate in annual cultural and business exchanges.
Last year, the two municipalities were planning to open talks on becoming sister cities, but the plan was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Natori City, we would like to deepen our friendship with the District of Sooke through various events for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer of 2021 and proceed with coordination at the administrative level toward the conclusion of the sister city agreement,” Natori Mayor Shiro Yamada stated in a letter to Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.
Tait said the two mayors exchanged letters and emails over the last year, and in a few weeks, hope to kickstart negotiations through a Zoom meeting.
“It would be quite something in years to come if we could kick this off and share some learnings in the future,” Tait said. “There’s a lot we can gain from this relationship.”
The Natori-Sooke relationship goes back to 2001, with many Natori residents and officials visiting Sooke and many Sooke residents visiting Japan.
Natori is located on Japan’s east coast and has a population of 80,000. Its economy centres on agriculture, fishing and secondary process industries.