The Japanese government has presented Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell with a Foreign Minister’s Commendation in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other nations.
In a special ceremony yesterday at Lismore City Council chambers, the Consul-General of Japan, Masato Takaoka, presented the mayor with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs award.
Mayor Dowell said she was ‘very honoured’ to receive the award.
‘I have a great love of Japan, particularly since visiting there myself, and the friendships I have developed with the Mayor of Yamato Takada and the people of the city are very special to me’, she said.
‘Our sister city relationship with Yamato Takada is one of the things Lismore can be most proud of.
‘Thanks to the forethought and kindness of Father Paul Glynn, our city spearheaded reconciliation between Australia and Japan in a way that had never been seen before.
‘This award affirms that Lismore City Council values that friendship as much today as when it started 52 years ago,’ mayor Dowell said.
The sister-city relationship between Lismore and Yamato Takada was the first of its kind between Australia and Japan, pioneered by Lismore’s Father Paul Glynn in 1963.
Mayor Dowell has played a key role in maintaining that relationship and fostering cultural sharing between the two cities, playing an integral part in the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2013.
She has since visited Japan with Lismore City Council general manager Gary Murphy to extend the hand of friendship and organises ceremonies that nurture the close bond between the two cities, including annual Skype sessions and letters.
Lismore and Yamato Takada also have an annual student exchange program so high school students can gain an insight into a different culture.
The 2015 exchange ended this week, with students returning from a nine-day trip where they visited schools, went sightseeing and enjoyed home stay experiences.