Page 4875 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 25 October 2011

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Nonetheless it was a very important visit and a cementing of the sister city relationship that exists between our cities.

It was Mayor Nakagawa’s first visit to Canberra at the head of a delegation that also included the Chairman of the Nara Municipal Council and officials from the Nara departments of tourism and business.

Mr Nakagawa and his delegation, whilst they were only here for two days, were particularly interested in exploring opportunities for promoting tourism and business between our two cities, as well as of course acknowledging the strong cultural ties that connect both of our communities. It was the 18th year of the sister city relationship, and I commented to the mayor that in our terms that means the relationship has come of age. Mayor Nakagawa said that in Japan you must be 20 before you have reached maturity, so he said he looked forward to coming back in 2013, in our centenary year, to actually acknowledge the maturity of the relationship from a Japanese perspective.

I was able to join the mayor in the planting of a tree in the Yoshino cherry forest, one of the forests that has already been planted at the National Arboretum. The mayor and his delegation were, I think, very impressed by the vision set out in the arboretum. He did express his delight at having Nara and our sister city relationship honoured with a prominent presence in what is fast becoming a truly national attraction.

The Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Economic Development hosted a business luncheon with the mayor to talk about tourism and business opportunities between our two cities. The feedback from the delegation was that that lunch was very productive.

It was a speedy tour around the city. He also visited the Canberra tourist information centre during his stay, and of course on Saturday night the mayor and the delegation attended the Canberra Nara Candle Festival at the Canberra Nara Peace Park, an event that has grown to become one of the most popular and delightful events on the spring calendar.

The delegation also visited the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point, where they learnt a little about our city’s early years. They took the opportunity to hear about our plans for Canberra’s centenary in 2013 and they acknowledged the importance of the centenary, whilst also acknowledging that Nara is just about to celebrate its 1,300th birthday in the not-too-distant future. But they were very gracious and said that perhaps acknowledging the first century is the most important out of all of those.

MR SPEAKER: Dr Bourke, a supplementary.

DR BOURKE: Chief Minister, you mentioned the Nara Candle Festival. Can you provide more information about that event?

MS GALLAGHER: I can. It was really lovely to be down at Nara Park for the Canberra Nara Candle Festival. It really has grown into a wonderful event at a lovely time of the year, with daylight saving and also the warm weather on the weekend.

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