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Mayor Leads Delegation to Hirado and Kumamoto


On September 24, Tainan City Mayor William Lai led a delegation of more than 200 people on a visit to the cities of Hirado and Kumamoto in Japan. The delegation was composed of members of the Zheng clan (descendants of Zheng Chenggong, aka Koxinga, who founded the dynasty that ruled Taiwan from present-day Tainan after he conquered and expelled the Dutch in 1662), representatives of temple organizations connected to worship of Koxinga, and other citizens of Tainan. The visit was a demonstration of the warm and deep friendship between Tainan and the two Japanese cities.

 

The delegation was formed to participate in a temple gate unveiling ceremony at the Zheng Chenggong Memorial Museum in Hirado, the city in Nagasaki Prefecture where Koxinga was born to his Chinese father and Japanese mother in 1624. Linked by their respective connections to Koxinga, Tainan and Hirado have engaged in continuous interaction since establishing a special city-to-city relationship in 1990.

 

Upon arriving in Hirado on September 24, Mayor Lai visited Hirado City Hall, where he presented a gift of traditional Taiwanese embroidery to the city. The next day, he and his Hirado counterpart, Mayor Kuroda Naruhiko, jointly presided at the unveiling ceremony. Mayor Lai conveyed salutation and friendly regard from Tainan’s nearly two million citizens to the people of Hirado. He also said he hoped this meeting would reinforce the already close ties between their two cities.

 

The following day, September 25, Mayor Lai traveled on to Kumamoto, the capital city of Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, where he attended a banquet with the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, Kabashima Ikuo, and Kumamoto City Mayor Kazufumi Ōnishi.

 

Tainan and Kumamoto share the unhappy but uniting experience of having both been hit by deadly earthquakes earlier this year. The strong quake that struck Tainan on February 6 killed 117 people and caused heavy damage. Two months later, in mid-April, Kumamoto was shaken by a pair of powerful tremors that caused severe damage and left at least 49 people dead.

 

Immediately after the Tainan earthquake, Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was joined by many of his country’s local governments and NGOs in springing to Tainan’s assistance with donations and offers of help. Kumamoto’s governor and mayor were among the first to express concern and condolence, and to raise and deliver generous donations. Mayor Lai spoke for all the people of Tainan in expressing the deepest gratitude for this great-hearted response to Tainan’s distress.

 

When Kumamoto was struck by the April earthquakes, its friends in Taiwan quickly rallied to its assistance. In June, Mayor Lai and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu flew to Kumamoto to present donations collected from the citizens of Tainan and Kaohsiung. And this latest visit by the Tainan delegation was an act of concrete support for Kumamoto’s tourism industry, aimed at helping promote its recovery from the blow inflicted by the earthquakes.

 

Taiwan and Japan are geographically close, and when either encounters a natural disaster, they can come together to support and assist each other. They are also united by shared adherence to democratic ideals and liberal social values. Mayor Lai hopes that the two countries can continue to support each other into the future, drawing on each other’s strengths, and joining forces to meet the many challenges posed by changes in the global situation.