Park Won Soon, mayor of Seoul, visited two cities in Japan – Tokyo and Hokkaido – for six days, from February 1 to 6, 2015.
As his first overseas trip this year, it will become a practice-oriented diplomacy mission focused on areas relevant to the livelihood of the public and the urban economy, such as safety, tourism, and urban regeneration. This trip is significant in that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of relations between Korea and Japan, and both Seoul and Tokyo will strengthen their citizen-centric urban diplomacy efforts, with the aim of addressing urban issues together.
Particularly, Park and Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of Tokyo, met for the second time to deepen further the partnership between Seoul and Tokyo. After opening the door to stronger ties between the two cities, which had been severed for the past ten years, during Masuzoe’s official visit to Seoul last July, Park made his return visit to Tokyo this time.
At the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Park and Masuzoe promised mutual and practical exchanges of information closely related to citizen livelihood, including safety, the environment, and tourism. In regards to city safety, Tokyo will transfer its know-how on technology and management, which has been accumulated over a long time, and Seoul will convey its know-how on the self-developed, IT-based pothole report system, in return.
Commemorating the fifth anniversary of the signing of the friendship treaty between Seoul and Hokkaido, Park was officially invited to Hokkaido. Park met with Harumi Takahashi, governor of Hokkaido, as well as the majors and governors of Saitama, Sapporo, and Otaru to seek ways to expand the basis for exchanges between the cities in the foreseeable future.
Mayor Park, on his way to Japan, said, “In order to resolve the issues related to the lives of citizens, the international community should maintain and solidify exchanges between cities and citizens’ to aid collaborations beyond borders.” He also added that Seoul and Tokyo will concentrate on conducting practical and substantial urban diplomatic ties, which would be is both cities’ common interests and will contribute to the betterment of the cities concerned.