International Urban Cooperation JAPAN 6th Exchange Meeting of the EU and Japanese Cities


The 6th Exchange Meeting of the EU and Japanese Cities took place on 24 November 2020 between 8:30-10:30 CEST and 16:30-18:30 JST. Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting took place virtually, via Zoom.

The meeting was moderated by Prof. Hidefumi Imura, and started with welcoming remarks by Mr. Haitze Siemers, Minister and Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Japan, who expressed his appreciation of the achievements under the IUC programme and the importance of the project in the framework of the EU-Japan Policy Dialogue between EC Regio and the City Bureau of MLIT, and the growing EU-Japan cooperation such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement  (SPA). A further welcoming speech was given by His Excellency Mr. Yasushi Masaki, Head of the Delegation of Japan to the European Union, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. He highlighted the significant role of city-to-city cooperation particularly in addressing common challenges such as climate change. The IUC has proven a great format for knowledge sharing in this context. He further expressed his gratitude that the cooperation will continue in 2021 in the form of the IURC programme. 

In the following, Mr Shinichi Sakaki, Director-General for City Bureau, MLIT of Japan expressed his appreciation to the achievements of the IUC programme and Mr. Normunds Popens, Deputy Director General of EC REGIO praised the important role of Japan for EU as well as subsequent agreements concluded recently. The EU has set high targets for green and digital transition goals and in this context, cities play a crucial role. Under the IUC, 165 cities participated so far, and they have made great achievements.

Subsequently, several Lord Mayors of both EU and Japanese cities delivered their experiences of how to foster city-to-city cooperation between the EU and Japan. The next session was moderated by Ms Yatsuka Kataoka, Paring Coordinator under the IUC-Japan programme. It started with the reports by two pairings joined in 2019, the city of Marseille and the city of Kobe.  Ms Pascal Srulovici, Project Manager from the city of Marseille, held a presentation on “Port regeneration and sustainable economic development”. Ms Lotte Suveri from the City of Turku; and Ms Yutaro Arai from the City of Nagano, held a presentation on: “Integration of urban-rural circular economy in food-water-energy nexus”.

Following these individual city presentations, Prof. Hidefumi Imura, Team Leader of the IUC-Japan programme held a presentation “Review of the IUC-Japan 2017-2020 and the shift to the new phase starting from 2021.”  In a video, he showed the history of the IUC Japan project and the major events that took place. Furthermore, he provided information on the new format of IUC activities which will start in 2021 within a larger framework of International Urban and Regional Cooperation for Asia and Australasia embracing Japan.

In the closing session, moderated by Prof. Imura, Ms Giorgia Rambelli, Team Leader of IUC Coordination Unit, and her team as well as Ms Sandra Marin from the IUC Task Force were thanked for their support during the implementation of the IUC Japan. In return, Ms Rambelli appreciated the role of cities and their efforts in making the world more sustainable in the future; she is very much impressed by the IUC programme’s achievements and is looking forward to continuing the great work in the IURC starting in 2021.  Closing remarks were also provided by Mr. Toshihiko Ota, Lord Mayor of Toyota, Japan and Mr. Takashi Matsuo, Lord Mayor of Kamakura, Japan.

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