A Close Neighbor is Better Than A Distant Relative
Date July 23, 2014 | Venue Seoul City Hall
Seoul-Tokyo, Signing the Agreement on Exchange and Cooperation
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Park Won-soon, the Mayor of Seoul. Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yoichi and members of the Tokyo government, welcome to Seoul. It is a great pleasure to meet you all. We wholeheartedly welcome your visit.
The distance between Seoul and Tokyo is not far, as it takes less than two and a half an hour by air. Some Japanese people even say that it takes less time to visit Seoul than to visit other areas in Japan. Although the two cities are very close to each other, it took 18 years for the Tokyo Governor and the Tokyo delegation to visit their sister city, Seoul. I deeply appreciate your visit.
We are witnessing a global shift from the age of nations to the age of cities. With the advent of the Global Age, it has become difficult to deal with social and environmental issues of the entire world among nations. There is a saying, “Presidents talk about principles, but mayors pick up trash.” What this means is that it is a city itself that solves problems related to the city. Among nations, there are national borders, but there are no borders among cities. Therefore, in the Global Age, urban problems should be addressed by cities.
Northeast Asia is tremendously important in this regard. We need to move toward co-prosperity. Seoul and Tokyo have to move forward step-by-step together, based on a mature sense of citizenship. Reflecting on the past with bravery, we have to work on the future together. I believe our cities can do that as one.
26 With Seoul With Seoul 27
We are living in the age of cities, the age of citizens, and the age of ‘Local to Local, People to People.’ Beyond our borders, more and more exchanges are happening among locals and people than ever.
Cities are making great efforts together inside and out of nations to build safe and prosperous livelihoods for their citizens. It is difficult for large cities to handle social issues alone, as no single city can solve issues of public security, energy exhaustion, environmental pollution, traffic systems, and social welfare. That is why cities share and exchange their common issues, and seek for solutions together.
Today, Seoul and Tokyo sign an agreement to cooperate and work together to resolve urban problems. I believe the mayor of Seoul and the governor of Tokyo have the same reason for signing the agreement. That reason is the safety and happiness of their citizens. Both cities will learn from each other, and exchange beneficial information and systems to minimize trial and error in performing policies. This exchange and cooperation will be undeniably beneficial for the effective city administration of both cities.
There is a Japanese proverb, “A close neighbor is better than a distant relative.” In Korean, there is an expression, “neighbor cousin,”which I think has the same meaning. Today, we build a bridge between our two cities as “good neighbors” to each other for exchanges and cooperation. I hope our two cities will have beneficial exchanges across these bridges. Again, Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yoichi and the delegation of Tokyo, I wholeheartedly welcome you to Seoul, and I hope Seoul and Tokyo will develop together. Thank you.