Saipan and Katori City in Japan have made official a sister-city agreement between the two jurisdictions.
In a signing ceremony last Friday at the Saipan Mayor’s Office conference room, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang signed the agreement here on Saipan while his Katori City counterpart, Mayor Seiichi Ui, signed the agreement in Japan synchronously, going through event proceedings over video conference.
The agreement draws on more than a hundred years of shared history between Saipan and Katori City in the Chiba Prefecture of Japan through the Katori Shrine, the head of all Katori Shrines throughout Japan, and the Saipan Katori Shrine, its branch shrine.
“Utilizing this connection, we wish to furthermore promote the friendly relations that we have been fostering thus far, to deepen mutual understanding and cooperation through the exchange of education, culture, industry, sports, and so forth. Thus, by this sister city agreement, the Municipality of Saipan and the City of Katori hereby agree to establish a sister city relationship,” the agreement states.
Apatang later said the main purpose of the agreement is to ensure a “perpetual connection” between the two municipalities, and he pledged that Saipan will participate in and develop cultural exchange programs with Katori City.
“The objective of the sister city agreement will be to ensure a perpetual connection between Katori City and Saipan and the preservation and teaching of the vital history of that connection. Because the preservation and teaching of that vital history is everybody’s business, just like tourism, we will develop programs that should include cultural exchange programs for the youth and adults,” said Apatang. “We will also endeavor to include exchanges in agriculture, commerce, and tourism in our relationship with Katori City, as the city is a premier agricultural hub in the Chiba Prefecture in Japan. The word Katori has a special place here [on] Saipan. It is the Katori Shrine in the Sugar King Park,” he added.
The signing ceremony was attended by guests both in Japan and on Saipan. One such guest on Saipan was Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo, who said the cultural and historic ties between the CNMI and Japan can be found in tourist sites around Saipan and ingrained in the CNMI’s culture.
“Today’s agreement is a welcome occasion. The historic ties between Japan and Saipan are still evident at many sites around the island, including the Katori Shrine at the Sugar King Park in our main tourist district,” said Iakopo. “The ties between us can still be seen in the daily lives of our people, whether it be making sushi for family [occasions]…[or] our shared cultural values of respect for others, honoring our elders, and cooperation. …Today’s agreement is a symbol of those historic and cultural ties, and mutual goodwill and friendship between our people.”
Besides Iakopo, other guests at Friday’s signing included Hideaki Sawada, who is chairman of the Japanese Society of the Northern Marianas; Pacific Development Inc. managing director Gordon I. Marciano, and representatives from the Japan Saipan Travel Association and the Japan-Northern Marianas Descent Association.