Amourence Lee · LIKE IT IS with MAYOR LEE
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  • Writer's pictureCouncilwoman Lee

Celebrating 60 Years with our Sister City Toyonaka, Japan

This October, I joined a delegation from the City of San Mateo to commemorate the 60th anniversary of our Sister City relationship with the City of Toyonaka, with 20 youth baseball players. It was the first post-pandemic baseball exchange since 2019 and we received a heart-felt and generous welcome from Toyonaka Mayor Osanai, City of Toyonaka staff, the coaches, players, the San Mateo Club, and homestay parents.

I am profoundly changed by my experience in Toyonaka City, thanks to the leaders from our cities who united to restore peace and join in friendship 60 years ago. We should all be so proud that our cities and our community and volunteers who have contributed to this peacekeeping program - it's these programs that restore and nurture global peace.

Very special thank you to George Musante, Carolyn Shavel, Danny Harris, and Gavin Owen leaders of the Sister City Association in San Mateo, and from the Toyonaka side we are greatly indebted to Mr. Kunisada, Ms.Kawai from sister city association, and Mr. Uehara, Mr. Hayashi, Mr. Kojima, Mr. Toyoda, Mr. Yamazaki, Ms. Nakamura from Toyonaka city officers, and Mr. Nagao, Mr. Kitano, Mr. Kato, Mr. Sugiura, Mr. Nishimura, Mr. Aso from Boys Baseball Association and so many more generous Japanese host families!

Celebration at City Hall

Bringing Lessons Home

I was granted an open access tour of Toyonaka's #publicsafety infrastructure, including their recycling and waste water treatment plant, emergency operations storage facility, and went 60 feet underground into their stormwater system. Toyonaka is a thousand year old culture and their strategic planning is looking forward, not just 20 years, they are planning for #climateresiliency 200 years from now. Their investments are signifiant and it shows. We should all aspire to show the kind of visionary leadership of Toyonaka and emulate their best practices in urban planning. I take with me the goal of approaching policy from a long view of our community - who we are and who we aspire to be.

Some key take-aways from the delegation to Toyonaka have shaped my policy priorities, including:

1) Ensure our Complete Streets Plan looks to international best practices to prioritize street safety and reach our goal of #visionzero to eliminate deaths from car collisions.

2) Integrate the Sister City Program into our Parks & Recreation Department as a fully resourced program that can hold the partnerships with our Sister City Association, City of Toyonaka, San Mateo Club and community partners, so that we will be ready 10 years from now to host our 70th anniversary.

3) Cultivate partnerships with local schools to deepen the cultural and educational exchanges for our youth.

I recently visited the Carey School to share my experiences with the 1st graders, who study Toyonaka and the Sister City Program. Hopefully, this connection will lead to more integrated #culturalexchange curriculum and partnership opportunities!


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