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JAPAN


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JAPAN- Our oldest and most active relationship is with Hitachi. Since 1983 over 250 Birmingham youngsters have traveled to Hitachi. We have an agreement whereby 2 Birmingham college graduates are employed by the Hitachi Board of Education for years service, and over 20 young people have participated in this program. Birmingham sent Hitachi a 10 foot replica of Vulcan which is displayed in the park overlooking the city.


Birmingham received large stone lanterns which greet visitors to the Botanical Garden. Hitachi has sent several delegations of city and economic development officials to Birmingham to study how we changed to a diverse economy. Adult exchanges have included museum groups, environmental groups, women’s rights groups and many other people of varied backgrounds. Positive media attention for this relationship has been common in Japan. For example several years ago when the Japanese Prime Minister made statements disparaging America’s multi-ethnic nature a Japanese film crew from their version of “60 Minutes” was in town for another story and also coincidentally there was a delegation of Japanese youth visiting Birmingham with home stays with local children’s families. The interviews of the Japanese and Birmingham children talking about how their experience had helped them understand each other was featured prominently on Japanese media in stories about the PM’s gaffe. A very positive rebuttal of a politician’s gaffe.  Student and business exchanges highlight this relationship!

We also on July 3, 2017 we formalized a Sister City relationship with Maebashi; which had been our long time Friendship City. They also employ our students, they have featured Birmingham poet Samuel Ullman in their city poetry museum and are sponsoring a major art show in Birmingham in 2005.  Mark Jackson is Honorary Consul General from Japan to the Alabama.

For more information about Hitachi, go to
http://www.city.hitachi.ibaraki.jp/upload/english/

For more information about Maebashi, go to
http://www.mcity-guide.jp/english/intro/index.html

Latest News

This past year was a big year for Japan. Sister Cities hosted a group of insurance executives who met with Birmingham’s legal department. We also hosted doctors from Hitachi for three weeks. UAB also took a group of students to Japan in June. Also, we hosted middle school kids from Japan in August. Plenty of wonderful cross-cultural exchanges took place between Birmingham and Japan in 2014.

Also, it was made official that the Southeast-US (SEUS) Conference will be held in Birmingham in November of 2015. The SEUS Conference will be a big opportunity for Birmingham. It will prompt many business opportunities as the southeast leaders and Japanese business leaders collaborate in our city.

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We hosted Tago
–san in 2013 for the anniversary of the teahouse and presented a beautiful replica of the tea house he built at our Botanical Gardens

Also in 2013 we hosted Mayor Yoshinari who enjoyed a Barons baseball game and formally thanked Birmingham for its $30,000.00+ in assistance after the earthquake/tsunami.

Also in 2013 we continued our annual quilt program whereby we send quilts for display at the Hitachi Civic Center

COMING UP IN 2014
We will host groups of high and middle school students form Hitachi this summer.  We also in June will be sending a group of college students to Hitachi for 3 weeks.

In March of 2014 we will host a group of insurance executives from Hitachi who will meet with Birmingham legal staff to study municipal liability and insurance policies.

Also in March we will host two doctors from Hitachi who will work and shadow doctors from UAB.

We have quilts in Hitachi for their annual show.

In April Birmingham runners will participate as guests of the city of Maebashi

We will institute epal program involving Huffman High School and The Altamont school this year.

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- April 18-21 Birmingham hosted a delegation from our Sister City of Hitachi.   The delegation’s purpose was to establish working relations with Birmingham’s health care and bio-medical services sector.   During their stay the delegation had very fruitful meetings with officials from UAB the Birmingham Business Alliance and Innovation Depot.   They also on Saturday had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Art, Botanical Garden, Birmingham Zoo, Vulcan and the Civil Rights District.   The highlight for Mayor Yoshinari was throwing out the first pitch at Saturday’s Barons vs Huntsville Stars game at the wonderful new Regions Field.

- Sept. 11-22, 2012 Mayor William Bell and Sister Cities Director Scotty Colson were in Japan.  Sept. 12-16 they attended the 35th annual Japan-South east US conference in Tokyo.   Birmingham hopes to host this event in 2015.   This organization promotes trade between the states of Alabama, Miss., Ga., NC, SC, Fla. and Tenn.  This year five of the seven governors attended the event.  We met with officials of Honda Corp at their head quarters in Tokyo.

Birmingham and Hitachi this year celebrate their 30th anniversary as sister cities.  Mayor Bell as a council member attended the initial signing ceremony.   UAB and Ibaraki Christian College are formalizing a formal partnership.   We also reviewed their disaster response programs.  During their visit Sept. 16-19 involved meetings with Hitachi Corp., local education officials and meetings with Hitachi staff involved in planning future exchanges.

Tago-san (the builder of our tea house) along with staff of the city of Maebashi hosted the delegation.  While in Maebashi we planted a crepe myrtle tree in their mid town park.    We also planned with them along with Hitachi officials ways that they can be part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the civil rights movement in Birmingham in 2013.

UAB Represents Birmingham in Japan, 2012
- by Tim Cook

This year marks a first for both the Birmingham Sister Cities Commission and the University of Alabama at Birmingham as both teamed up to send students to Japan. As UAB instructors of Japanese, my wife, Mako, and I were privileged to lead a study abroad group of 10 UAB students to Japan from May 29 to June 18. As a lover of languages, of all things Japanese, and of the whole sister cities philosophy, I saw study abroad and sister cities as two big dots that needed connecting, so I requested and obtained the cooperation of both the Commission and UAB to work together to make this year’s Japan trip happen. After one year of elementary Japanese, none of the students were exactly fluent, but that amount of language went a long way to make their experience deeply meaningful, for them, for their new Japanese friends, and ultimately for the Birmingham and Hitachi communities.

The first week of our three-week program was in Hitachi, so the city sent a bus to pick us up at Tokyo Narita Airport. Skipping Tokyo for the time being, we went directly to Hitachi with the friendly folks from Hitachi City Hall, Numata-san, Tsumura-san, and Birmingham’s own Sam Eto, who is now one of the Birmingham exchange English teachers in Hitachi. For the two-hour trip, Sam kept us entertained with stories and a trivia quiz on Birmingham and Hitachi.

 

-Birmingham-Southern "Love Asia" club present donation of
$2200.00 for Hitachi Relief.

 

-Dear Mr. Colson,

Thank you very much for your concern.
I couldn't write to you sooner, because I had been to some shelters and take care of evacuees after the earthquake. I just came back to my office yesterday.
I am very sorry for making you worry, Mr. Colson, we (Jinichi, Reiko and all members of Community Relations Section) are a little bit tired but doing well here in Hitachi.



A large earthquake in the Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture in March 11th generated large tsunamis that caused great damage to a wide range of coastal areas in our city.
Fortunately no one died the tunami, but many houses and belongings were swept away.
After the earthquake and tunami, Jinichi and I went to one of the beach in the north part of Hitachi in order to examine disaster refuse.
We found a horrific injuries sight. Our beautiful beaches were gone. I was near to tears.


Some parts of the city are still without power and water and it may take a few more days before services are fully restored.
The tunami-hit regions may need 5 to 10 years for reconstruction.
The earthquake will be the most traumatic experience of our life.

Sorry for only a gloomy story. I'm not a pessimistic.
Thank you very much for your warm words of encouragement.
I really appreciate it. Your email really brightens up my day. Thank you!
Our city faces really daunting challenges, but we'll have to keep working!
Please say hello to Mayor Bell. His encouraging letter really touched all our hearts.
I'll keep in touch wherever I go.
Keep up the fantastic work, Mr. Colson!

Reiko Numata
Community Relations Section, Hitachi City

 

-We sent $30,000.00 to the Hitachi Earthquake Relief fund!   Thanks to Birmingham Business Association, City of Birmingham and all of our volunteers for their help!

-Eight locally-made Birmingham quilts recently returned from a month-long exhibition in Hitachi, Japan where they were warmly received. The February 2011 show marked the seventh annual exhibition of Birmingham quilting in Hitachi.

- Tim and Masako Cook will be taking a group of UAB students to Hitachi, Japan the summer of 2012-we will have more information later

-Student artwork from Glen Iris and Robinson Elementary Schools students recently returned from a school exhibit in friendship city, Maebashi. They host elementary school sent back a large sample of their own students’ artwork to display at our local schools.

-Below are pictures from Hitachi students thanking us for our contributions to their Earthquake/Tsunami relief effort.

Hitachi students thank you letters for Earthquake/Tsunami relief

 

-May 11-21 a delegation will going to Jordan and Israel. Mayor Bell is
scheduled to go and Eric Essix will be performing in both cities. For
more information see the home page!  You can be part of this delegation!

-Birmingham will send 3-6 runners to Maebashi for the annual run April 24. The Birmingham Track Club works with us on recruitment and selection of runners. For more information contact Johnaca Kelley btcpres09@gmail.com

-Eight locally-made Birmingham quilts recently returned from a month-long exhibition in Hitachi, Japan where they were warmly received.The February 2011 show marked the seventh annual exhibition of Birmingham quilting in Hitachi.

- Tim and Masako Cook will be taking a group of UAB students to Hitachi, Japan this summer

-New pictures from our successful Runners exchange April 20-24 for the Maebashi Run.  Thanks to Birmingham Track Club for helping promote and coordinate this event and congratulations to our runners-Katie McGinly Shannon Talyor, Geoff Gottlieb, Joe Shaw, David Armistead, Christoph Berenotto

-Eight locally-made Birmingham quilts recently returned from a month-long exhibition in Hitachi, Japan where they were warmly received. The February 2009 show marked the fifth annual exhibition of Birmingham quilting in Hitachi.

-Student artwork from Glen Iris and Robinson Elementary Schools students recently returned from a school exhibit in friendship city, Maebashi. They host elementary school sent back a large sample of their own students’ artwork to display at our local schools.

-Birmingham is sending six runners to the Maebashi Run in April and the Birmingham Track Club will host three Maebashi runners in the fall for the Vulcan Run.

-Birmingham Boys Choir will visit Maebashi and Hitachi on a performance tour in June.

-We are working on an exchange of animals with Hitachi's Kamanie Park Zoo and our Birmingham Zoo. We will exchange a pair of beavers for a pair of Tanuki (raccoon dogs). In June 2006 we sent a group of 12 high school students for a week in Hitachi and we will host a group of 15 middle school students in Birmingham Aug. 3-6 2007.

-Birmingham Public Library will host a series of classes this summer to prepare students for the Hitachi Civic Center Computer Art contest. We also had a successful exchange of runners to Maebashi for their Marathon and will host runners from Maebashi for the Vulcan Run next year.