Mayor of Kumiyama Nobuo Sakamoto and Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham.
Mayor of Kumiyama Nobuo Sakamoto and Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham. Emma Channon

Mayors meet for coffee and eggs

ECONOMIC note-swapping between Kumiyama and Warwick was the order of the day, but first priority was given to a plateful of eggs benedict and cups of steaming coffee.

Cafe Jacqui's provided the perfect backdrop for breakfast yesterday morning between Mayor Nobuo Sakamoto from Kumiyama in Japan, Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham and other Warwick representatives.

About 30 people from Kumiyama town came to Warwick last Thursday to take part in the Peace Festival at the weekend.

Along with Mayor Sakamoto, they included a musical group and a soccer team.

Chamber of Commerce president Dave Littleproud welcomed the Japanese mayor and said it was fitting to meet at Cafe Jacqui's for the breakfast.

“This business had one metre of water come through and was one of the last places to re-open,” he said.

In his response, Mayor Sakamoto expressed his lament for the natural disasters that struck both countries.

“We express our concern for the terrible flood disaster here and our great respect for your powerful effort to revive too,” he said.

“As you know, we also had a large earthquake and tsunami which has been causing terrible calamity in the eastern part of Japan.

“We are really thankful for your help and appreciate that Prime Minister Gillard visited the stricken area earlier than any other country.”

Mr Sakamato said the tsunami had affected Japan's export ability and as a result, the Kumiyama region had set up its own ‘farmers markets' to help the region increase its self-sufficiency.

“Our aim is that not only producers will profit, but also regional and agricultural production will be promoted,” he said.

Yesterday afternoon, Mayor Sakamato and other visiting guests from the region were officially welcomed by Southern Downs councillors and were handed small gifts.

“The appreciation of all things Japanese is important to Warwick as we build our cultural relationship,” he said.

“It's good to see the friendship between the regions despite the language barrier.

“It started with the two high schools and the exchange has continued since then. That cultural and social interchange is very important.”

Yesterday evening the group travelled to the Gold Coast and will fly home on Thursday.



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