A City of Atlanta delegation returned this week fromÂ Japan,Â where they helped celebrate the 10th anniversary of ties with the sister city of Fukuoka.Â Â
Fukuoka, which sits on the northern edge of the southwestern island of Kyushu, joined hands with Atlanta in 1994, but the partnership didn’t become official under Sister Cities International until 2005, when the mayor of the Japanese city visited Atlanta to sign the agreement with then-Mayor Shirley Franklin. She later made a reciprocal visit.
The recent delegation included Mayor Kasim Reed’s Chief of Staff Candace Byrd and International Affairs Director Claire Angelle, who participated in cultural activities along with Fukuoka city leaders and members of the Atlanta-Fukuoka Sister Cities Committee.
The Atlanta group visited the Fukuoka Port, Water Sports Stadium, the Fukuoka Smart House and a cultural district home to the Kushida Shrine and artisans making the city’s traditional handicraft, Hakata dolls. They also met with the city’s deputy mayor, gave interviews to local media and participated in a tree-planting ceremony.
Aside from sharing the same latitude (33 degrees north), Atlanta and Fukuoka both sell themselves as bastions of understanding and tolerance.
Fukuoka prides itself as Japan’s gateway to Asia, a distinction that might be viewed with skepticism after Japan’s colonization of Korea and parts of China during the 20th century. Despite the present tensions in the region, city leaders told Global Atlanta during a visit in 2011 that for most of its history, Fukuoka enjoyed close relationships with other countries.
Business ties with Atlanta also abound. The city of 1.4 million is home Coca-Cola Co.’s western Japan headquarters and bottling division. Other companies that have operations in both Georgia and the island of Kyushu include TOTO,Â Murata Electronics, YKK Group,Â Kubota Corp.Â and many more.
Ms. Angelle said the group was able to present the business advantages of Atlanta to 50-60 people while there and that a delegation of 67 people led by 36-year-old Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro TakashimaÂ is expected to land in Atlanta in November.
More than 400 Japanese-owned facilities employ an estimated 25,000 people in Georgia.
ReadÂ Global Atlanta’s 2011 profile of the cities’ connections: Atlanta Shares Latitude, Students With Japanese Sister CityÂ
Read more about what to do and eat in Fukuoka: Eat, Drink and Celebrate in Atlanta’s Japanese Sister City