MAYOR Michael Neoh says Warrnambool’s link with its Japanese sister city remains strong, despite debate over a celebratory trip.
Delegates including Cr Neoh return to Australia this morning following a week-long visit to Miura, primarily focused on two decades of sister city relations.
City council representatives also visited Tokyo University and discussed with officials a potential link with Deakin University’s Warrnambool-based marine biology unit.
Cr Neoh said Miura’s civic leaders were relieved to be told that the sister city relationship would continue, following a stoush between councillors over how the international trip would be funded.
He told The Standard from Tokyo that Miura’s mayor and citizens valued the Australian-Japanese link.
“You can’t overstate how highly Miura regards Warrnambool,” Cr Neoh said.
“The mayor and other officials read our newspaper, so they were concerned about what has happened over the past couple of months.
“There are many similarities between Miura and Warrnambool and those shared values have strengthen during the past 20 years.”
Cr Neoh visited Japan alongside council chief executive Bruce Anson, city growth officer Bill Millard, councillor Rob Askew and civic representative David McKenzie. The group attended a number of functions including a reception hosted by the Miura International Exchange group.
Cr Neoh said the potential connection with Tokyo University’s marine science unit would open up undergraduate and post-graduate opportunities for south-west students. “Tokyo University is a world leader in this area but, surprisingly enough, they rarely have Australian students come to study,” the mayor said.
“Deakin Warrnambool is highly regarded around Australia in the marine biology sector, so making an international connection could be quite valuable.”
The Warrnambool delegation’s visit coincided with Miura’s Port Festival and the group also visited a number of schools in the region.
Cr Neoh said meeting with former Warrnambool teacher Scott Farley was a highlight of the trip.
“Scott has been teaching English for the past year, so it was great to visit the school and see him at work,” Cr Neoh said. “Scott is just one of many examples where Warrnambool students have benefited from the sister city relationship.”