CANBERRA – Dignitaries from Japan and Australia commemorated the 25th anniversary of sister city relations between Nara and Canberra on Thursday.
Nara City Mayor Gen Nakagawa traveled to the Australian capital to mark the silver anniversary at an event hosted by Japanese Ambassador Sumio Kusaka and attended by Andrew Barr, chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory.
In his speech, Nakagawa praised the contributions of Father Tony Glynn, a Catholic priest who lived in Nara for decades and “dedicated his life” to promoting reconciliation between Japan and Australia after World War II.
His efforts provided the impetus for the signing of the sister city agreement on Oct. 27, 1993, under which the two cities have since been promoting educational, sports and cultural exchanges.
The sister city relationship brings together one of Australia’s youngest cities with one of Japan’s oldest, with Canberra’s Barr joking that “for a city a little over 100 years old, 25 years seems like a very long time.”
Although the two cities are very different historically, Nakagawa said there are many similarities.
“Canberra is a city that is surrounded by nature, with no tall buildings, so it feels like time flows more slowly, much like Nara.”
On Saturday, locals will celebrate the 25th anniversary at the annual Canberra Nara Candle Festival.
Barr said the festival is one of the city’s most popular events and “is symbolic of the strength between Canberra and Nara, and indeed of the Japan-Australia relationship.”