Japanese, American Mayors Strengthen Relationships in Seventh Annual Conference
Gathering in Denver May
1 for the Seventh Japan-United States Mayors Fellowship Exchange Conference,
mayors from both countries used this opportunity to renew their bonds of
friendship as well as to exchange information and ideas on a wide variety of
The conference was
hosted by Conference of Mayors President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb
who welcomed the eight mayor delegation from the Japan Association of City
Mayors by stating, "Today's meeting will help to further bridge the
partnership between our two organizations and the peoples in our cities.
This meeting is another example of our cities and mayors entering the
Leading the Japanese
delegation was the president of the Japan Association of City Mayors JACM)
and Kagoshima Mayor Yoshinori Akasaki. The Japanese delegation consisted of
the mayors from the following cities, all of whom also serve as
vice-presidents of JACM: Noboribetsu, Murayama, Fukui, Sizuoka, Kasai,
Takamatsu, and Tsukumi along with the Secretary General of JACM, Toshifumi
Akimoto. The Japanese delegation represented the first time in the history
of JACM that the presidents and vice-presidents composed an entire
delegation. The Japan Association of City Mayors is composed of Mayors from
671 cities in Japan.
The American delegation
was led by Mayor Webb and included Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill,
Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison, Fort Collins Assistant City Manager Frank Bruno
and Conference Executive Director J. Thomas Cochran. The meeting is part of
a series of international exchanges taking place by the Conference of Mayors
as part of its "Cities 2000" initiative.
In his opening remarks,
JACM president, Mayor Akasaki stated that the "mayors of both countries
shared much in common and the issues that we discuss today will help to lead
to better lives for the peoples in the cities of our two counties."
Following Mayor Akasaki's
remarks and a presentation on city livability issues in Japan, the
conference participants discussed a wide range of issues ranging from the
decentralization of the national government in Japan and the ramifications
to cities in Japan, to ways cities in the United States and Japan raise
revenues, to rail transportation systems in both countries. One
transportation issue that dominated a large share of the discussion was
airports. The Japanese mayors were very interested in how cities in the
United States deal with citizen opposition to airport development. In Japan,
due to limited land, vocal opposition usually arises to major land
developments. Mayor Webb also talked about his efforts to establish direct
flights from Denver to Tokyo.
At the meeting,
Conference executive director J. Thomas Cochran and Conference President,
Wellington E. Webb announced that the Conference of Mayors had established a
website link with the Japan Association of City Mayors. "This link is only
the first step in a long-term project by the Conference of Mayors to use
today's Internet technology to facilitate the exchange of information and
best practices between Mayors and cities, across oceans and continents,"
Mayor Webb said.
Following the conference
the Japanese delegation participated in a press conference with Mayor Webb
and attended a reception that was hosted by the Denver Japanese American
Society. Mayor Webb hosted the Japanese delegation later that evening at a
nearby rustic Western-style restaurant. Earlier in the day, the Japanese
delegation toured some of Denver's downtown projects, including Coors
Following their visit to
Denver and a side-trip to New York City, the Japanese delegation traveled to
Washington, D.C. where they were welcomed by District of Columbia Mayor
Anthony Williams. Mayor Williams, in welcoming the delegation to his city,
talked about the long and historic relationship between Japan and Washington
as exemplified each year by the Cherry Blossom Festival. The Japanese
delegation also visited the headquarters of the Conference of Mayors as part
of their visit to Washington.