Sister City

Hitachi, Japan

Signed: April 23, 1982

Population: 185,000

Sister City

Maebashi, Japan

Signed: July 3, 2017

Population: 336,000

Our oldest and most active relationship is with Hitachi. Since 1982, over 250 Birmingham youngsters have traveled to Hitachi. We have an agreement where two 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 has also 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 both city and economic development officials to Birmingham to study how we evolved into such a diverse economy.

Adult exchanges have included museum groups, environmental groups, women’s rights groups and many other people of varied backgrounds, and 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. Also, coincidentally there was a delegation of Japanese youth visiting Birmingham homestays 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!

On July 3, 2017, we formalized a Sister City relationship with Maebashi, who had previously been our Friendship City since October of 1998. They also employ our students, they have featured Birmingham poet Samuel Ullman in their city poetry museum, and are sponsored a major art show in Birmingham, in 2005.

Mark Jackson is Honorary Consul General from Japan to Alabama.

For more information about Hitachi, go to

For more information about Maebashi, go to

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