• Kyodo

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A group of Yokohama city assembly members will sign a memorandum today with assembly members of Taiwan’s Kaohsiung to jointly promote amity and exchanges, despite having sister-city ties with Shanghai, Yokohama assembly sources said Sunday.

The Yokohama and Kaohsiung groups will officially sign the accord next month in Yokohama following an informal signing to take place in the southwestern Taiwan city, the sources said.

In 1985, city assembly members of Kobe, western Japan, and Taichung, in central Taiwan, signed a similar accord, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Japan.

The city of Yokohama, however, despite having sister-city relations with Shanghai, has no power to stop individual assembly members from making such a move, a municipal government official said.

If the move is intended to promote grassroots exchanges between the two cities, it will not be a political issue, the official said.

The Yokohama assembly group asked the Kaohsiung group to participate in the accord, hoping to have Japan-bound cargoes from Kaohsiung port unloaded at Yokohama, according to the sources.

The number of containers handled at Kaohsiung port was the third largest in the world in 1999 after Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Yokohama group was set up in March 1991 to promote Japanese-Taiwanese friendship, and more than half of the city assembly members participate in it. The group visited Kaohsiung in January and agreed with their counterparts to promote amity and exchanges, the sources said.

Japan severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1972 when it established ties with China.