Park Won Soon, mayor of Seoul, and Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of Tokyo, promised to cooperate in jointly addressing the issues of metropolitan areas.
On February 3, Park and Masuzoe met at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and declared their intention to cooperate in six areas related to the livelihood of citizens and the urban economy – city safety, environment, welfare, sports & Olympics, tourism, and culture.
This was their second meeting following Masuzoe’s visit to Seoul last July. In fact, this joint declaration has resulted in the ‘Agreement on Exchange and Cooperation’ being concluded, which was signed in Seoul.
Such a partnership is significant in that the two cities will share each other’s experience and administrative policies in a more substantial manner, for instance, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s focus on ‘safety.’ After signing an MOU on technological cooperation with regards to sinkholes with Tokyo, both Seoul and Tokyo declared their intention to cooperate and share information on flood control and the anti-shock and deterioration of subways, bridges, buildings, and other infrastructure. Both cities will partake in joint fire-fighting training programs. Park also suggested holding an annual ‘city safety forum’ on a regular basis.
In addition, in terms of the environment, measures to address global warming – technology exchanges and cooperation in the prevention of air pollution and the energy efficiency of architectural buildings – will be shared. In healthcare welfare, efficient actions to prevent low birth rate and strengthen the partnership regarding infectious diseases will be discussed further. In culture, exhibitions utilizing the collections of the Edo-Tokyo Museum and the Seoul Museum of History will be held, in addition to reciprocal exchanges of curators from the two museums.
Mayor Park said, “City safety and citizens’ issues do not show any boundaries nor ideology; therefore, this meeting is expected to open a new chapter for active exchanges between Seoul and Tokyo, which have long been stagnant. Also, I hope the two cities will create a wise synergy by cooperating closely on city safety, environment, tourism, and welfare, and for resolving urban problems.”
After signing a sisterhood agreement in 1988, Seoul and Tokyo had then cooperated closely. However, the relations became strained for nearly ten years under the leadership of Shintaro Ishihara, former Governor of Tokyo, from 1999 to 2012. However, Yoichi Masuzoe, who took office in February 2014, officially visited Seoul in July 2014 as a means to normalize the relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
Mayor Park held the ‘Seoul-Tokyo Friendship Exchange Meeting’ with fifteen Japanese officials, who will give a variety of advice filled with great affection toward Seoul. The Seoul Metropolitan Government now appoints foreigners interested in administrative policies, and with experience of living in Seoul, so as to have them act as a resourceful network for constructive feedback and advice. It is currently comprised of 95 members from seven cities, including Beijing, Manila, Berlin, New York, Sichuan, Shandong, and LA.