Japan Part 2 – Fremantle’s Japanese sister city Yokosuka

It was good timing that whilst in Tokyo for the waste tour Freo Chamber CEO  Tim Milson and I was also able to pop down an hour south to Fremantle’s Japanese sister city Yokosuka to celebrate our 35th anniversary as sister cities.

Yokosuka and Fremantle have been sister cities since 1979 and we have a remarkable amount in common:

Yokosuka, like Fremantle, is port city located not far from the capital and it has a fabulous city funded arts centre (round picture below).

Yokosuka, like Fremantle, is an historic city – “a place of consequence”. One of Yokosuka’s big claims to fame is that in 1853, United States naval Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Tokyo Bay with his fleet in southern Yokosuka, leading to the opening of diplomatic and trade relations between Japan and the United States for the first time.

Jumping back to 2014, the current mayor of Yokosuka was not only around the same age as me but was elected and re-elected as Mayor the same year as me. We got on really well and there was a lot in common with what he was trying to do with Yokosuka and I am with Fremantle – take a city whose fortunes have been in decline due to structural economic changes in recent decades and get new investment and help guide the city to a more sustainable future

In many ways Fremantle also has plenty to learn from Yokosuka. They have done already good job in attracting major new industries. I was especially impressed by the Yokosuka Research Park, established in 1997 it isa major centre for the Japanese telecommunications industry, and is where many of the wireless, mobile communications related companies have set up their research and development centers including the Japanese Telstra equivalent Domoco).

Domoco showed me their “future lab” which was astounding. Geo-data mapping from their 60 million phone subscribers to show their transport movements in a 3D form. Their version of “Google Glass” that had face recognition technology and would pull up info of people you looked at was as potentially scary as it was amazing. They also showed me a mobile phone that was merely a ring you put on your finger and was entirely controlled by voice activation (but you had to put your finger in your ear to talk on the phone which did look at little odd!). They asked me not to publish photos of these which is a shame but fair enough. I left with no doubt innovation is alive and well in Japan

I also visited their very advanced  and beautiful recycling factory (pictured below and which did some great creative recovery of household item including reusable shopping bags made from old umbrellas) and did a tour of the port and some historic areas.

Sister cities as a whole are something that I must admit I had some reservations about when I first became mayor. But I have come to see the value of student exchanges which Fremantle and Yokosuka already do each year), of sharing ideas and seeing how other places do things (often better), and of strengthening Fremantle’s unique cultural ties. So it has been nice to be able to help strengthen some of these global ties a little that now go back many decades.

Finally a huge thanks to the Mayor and the Yokosuka international team for their very generous hospitality.



RnD centreYokosuka Arts CentreThat's the recycling centre not my hotel!

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
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3 Responses to Japan Part 2 – Fremantle’s Japanese sister city Yokosuka

  1. Colin Nichol says:

    “Research Park” – let me plug once again for an “Indian Ocean Centre”.

    • It’s a good idea. Who would be an anchor in such a centre do you think?

      • Colin Nichol says:

        I’ve been banging on about this for over a year. I listed a pile of ideas on Roel’s blog some months ago. I’ll get back to you! The basic idea is, Fremantle looks out over the entire Indian Ocean and is ideally located to be a focal point for studies: oceanographic, scientific, climate/ weather, ecology, education, communications, shipping, business/trade – the ideas are only limited by the imagination. Some night not be too practical, but any contributions would be good. When other Indian Ocean rim countries are included, financing could be shared, as long as a location can be provided (not J Shed, actually). I see this as really defining the city in an international sense. UNDA might well participate, or even Murdoch (!). Think big! I’ll wind up the alleged brain and see what pops out. More later.

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