JLGC News October 2018

15 Whitehall

15 Whitehall office

Yokosuka – Medway links renewed

JLGC attended and supported an event in Rochester, Kent, reconfirming links between Medway and Yokosuka, a port city south of Tokyo. Medway Council was pleased to welcome the Mayor of Yokosuka Mr Katsuaki Kamiji and the Chairman of Yokosuka City Council, Mr Kenji Kinoshita, to Medway from Japan, in the last week of June.

The Mayor of Medway, Cllr Steve Iles welcomed the Mayor of Yokosuka, Mr Kamiji, to the Guildhall Museum on Thursday, 28 June. The Mayors of Medway and Yokosuka signed a new twinning certificate, to continue the friendly partnership between the two areas. Medway has long standing links to Japan, and each year thousands of residents attend the Will Adams Festival in Gillingham Park which celebrates the life of the Elizabethan adventurer and Japanese culture.

Kobe City Mayor’s group visit to the UK

The Mayor of Kobe city visited Aberdeen in June to sign major agreements with the city council and Robert Gordon University. Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto met Lord Provost Barney Crockett to sign the statement of intent which sets out areas where the two can work together.

Covered in the agreement are commitments to investigate further industry collaboration in port management, renewable energy and developing hydrogen technology. Mr Hisamoto, speaking through an interpreter, said: “The major reason we are here is not only to build a relationship with the city, but also between the universities and industries. The potential for the two cities working together is very, very high.”

Cllr Crockett said: “Extending our reach overseas has to be a key objective for us as an administration.”

Separately, Robert Gordon University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kobe University’s School of Marine Sciences.

Staff from Kobe City also exhibited at the International Festival of Business in Liverpool at the end of June, promoting the city as a business destination and meeting with staff from Liverpool Vision and the Liverpool City Region, to continue discussions with the city on developing relations after an initial meeting in Summer 2017.

Southwark visit by JLGC

JLGC Staff visited Southwark Borough Council on a research visit to discuss multicultural policies in the London borough. Japanese local authorities are interested in UK local government policies for diverse communities, and Southwark is one of the most diverse authorities in London with a population which ethnically 63% white, 16% black African and 8% black Caribbean. The area is the home of many Nigerian (Peckham is largely regarded as the heart of London’s Nigerian community), Jamaican, South African, Polish, and French immigrants, and Southwark BC also had the greatest proportion of social housing in England, 31.2%, at the time of the 2011 census.

The visit was arranged by David Quirke-Thornton, strategic director responsible for education and social services who took part the 2018 Japan Study Tour. JLGC will continue to work with Southwark on further links with local authorities in Japan in education and sharing best practice.

LGA Conference attendance

JLGC staff attending the LGA Annual Conference 2018 from July 3 to July 5. Held over three days in Birmingham, the conference provided opportunities for delegates to engage in a range of sessions on how innovation and good practice can deliver the best local public services for communities in the UK.

As well as joining policy discussions on subjects ranging from housing, local government finance, health and social care, Brexit, devolution, children’s services, education and schools, and local government transformation, JLGC staff were also able to catch up with local government colleagues, many of whom took part in Japan Study Tour which is has now been held annually for over 20 years.

Japanese staff commented about the conference ‘In the presentations and discussions during the LGA General Assembly, the influence on local economies after the withdrawal of the EU was often discussed. Under the current political situation where the future cannot be seen, each local government asked many questions and expressed dissatisfaction. I think that it was a very meaningful opportunity not only for constructive discussion but also for sharing the challenges faced by municipalities and hearing their frank opinions.’

Additionally, ‘It was interesting to see how frank comments were between officers and elected members, this would be unusual in Japan, as well as the sight of women being prominent in senior positions. The topics discussed seemed close to Japanese cities, towns and villages provision of direct public services, which the prefectures in Japan are not so involved’.

Visit Japan and Rugby World Cup event in Cardiff

JLGC held a special seminar in Cardiff to run alongside a Japan National Tourism and RWC 2019 Host Cities special event at the National Museum Cardiff in Wales, promoting travel to Japan during the tournament, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) taking place across 12 Host Cities in Japan from late next September.

Delegates from Hokkaido to Kyushu listened as experts from Cardiff Council and the Welsh Government outlined the joint ‘Team Wales’ preparatory work invested in Cardiff’s successful bid to stage eight games (including a quarter-final) of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

JLGC would like to thank Kathryn Richards (Cardiff Council/Visit Cardiff) and Gwilym Evans and Helen Butler (Welsh Government Major Events Unit) for their valuable insights at the seminar.

Tokyo region representatives visit Coventry to learn Olympic legacy lessons

During August JLGC assisted with arrangements for a delegation of assembly members and academics from local governments in the Tokyo region visiting Coventry City Council and Coventry University to learn more about the Midlands city’s hosting events as part of the London 2012 Olympics.

Coventry, the forthcoming UK City of Culture 2021 thanks to Games-time cultural investment, hosted football games at the city’s stadium and also the Cultural Olympiad during 2012. The group, led by Professor Emeritus Aoyama (former Vice Governor of Tokyo) met with the Lord Mayor, council staff and Olympics experts at Coventry University during the inspection and study visit. They were also able to tour the Ricoh Arena to visualise the hosting experience and legacy ahead of Tokyo 2020 following the civic reception and university presentations.

Supporting research visits to Scandinavia

JLGC Assistant Director Kyosuke Tomita (dispatched of Ibaraki Prefecture) supported the Japan Finance Organisation for Municipalities (JFM) on a recent research visit to Scandinavia. JFM is a joint funding organization established by Japanese law with the objective of providing Japanese local governments with long-term funding at low interest rates.

JFM visited the regional finance public corporations in Sweden and Denmark, municipalities and local government association organisations from June 24 to 30. JLGC arranged the appointments and attend supported the visits. At the meeting, opinions were positively exchanged, mainly on agenda items such as local taxes, fiscal adjustment system, green bonds and risk weights in each country. JLGC would like to thank colleagues for hosting the group at Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR / SKL), Örebro Kommune, Nacka Kommune, in Sweden as well as Local government Denmark (KL), City of Copenhagen and Hvidovre Kommune in Denmark.