The dinner in Tracy Community Center attracted nearly 200 people, many of whom were former Tracy middle-school students who had visited Memuro or their chaperones for the annual youth exchange visits since the founding of the program in 1989.
Masato Watanabe, consul general of Japan in San Francisco, told the gathering that sister city ties are important to world understanding and building close relations between countries.
“I’m excited to be here tonight,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this, and the relationship between Tracy and Memuro is a shining example of the ties between Japan and the United States.”
Mayor Yoshinori Miyanishi of Memuro, who led a 14-member delegation from Tracy’s sister city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, said the program is important for his city, as he’s sure it is for Tracy, too.
“We certainly hope the program continues,” he said through an interpreter. “I invite you all to Memuro, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there.”
Tracy Mayor Brent Ives said the success of the Tracy-Memuro connection could be measured by its quarter-century longevity, its educational value for the young people involved and its enhancement of cultural understanding.
Ives presented gifts from Tracy to his counterpart from Memuro, who responded with gifts from his city to Tracy.
Ken Yasui, who was the founder and first president of the Tracy Sister City Association, spoke in both English and Japanese, stressing that the success of the program in Tracy was based on the active involvement of the association’s board of directors and the cooperation of Memuro city officials.
In addition to the Memuro connection, Tracy has a less active sister city relationship with Velas in the Azores.
Entertainment for the anniversary dinner was provided the Stockton Bukkyo Taiko Drum Group.
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