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Namerikawa and Schaumburg Celebrate 20th Anniversary as Sister Cities

39 Delegates from Namerikawa Join Celebration

• Thirty-nine representatives of the Japanese city of Namerikawa, Toyama Prefecture, including 20 junior high school students, visited Schaumburg from August 17 to 22 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the two cities’ sister-city relationship.

• After the welcome luncheon at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts upon arrival, the delegates were welcomed by the Schaumburg Sister Cities Commission on August 20 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center for the celebration ceremony.

• The ceremony was joined by Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson and Namerikawa Mayor Masataka Ueda, who arrived in Schaumburg that day.

• Larson praised the sister-city relationship by stating that the communication and cultural exchange over the past 20 years has enabled the members of the both communities to learn from each other and enjoy different cultures. He also announced August 2017 as the “Month of Namerikawa.”

• Ueda, who visited Schaumburg for the first time in 2011, was happy to be reunited with Larson. He thanked “Oya no Kai” the parents of the Thomas Dooley Elementary School students for accepting the 20 junior high school students as their host families.

• Namerikawa and Schaumburg became sister cities in July 1997 with the assistance of Sugino Corp., a machine tool manufacturer from Toyama. Since that time, people representing Schaumburg, including Larson, city officials, Schaumburg Youth Orchestra and members of the community, have visited Namerikawa, while students and citizens of Namerikawa have come to Schaumburg to stay with host families. In 2008, pen-paling began between the students of Thomas Dooley Elementary School in Schaumburg and Higashikazumi Elementary School in Namerikawa, and 17 children and their guardians visited Namerikawa in June this year.

• The sister-city relationship was, at times, on the rocks. Ueda, who took over as the mayor of Namerikawa in 2010, feels the relationship is “something special.”
• “I’m ecstatic to be presented with the key to the city and have [August 2017] designated as the Month of Namerikawa,” Ueda said. “People in America have kind hearts. Children can have expanded world view through interaction with each other. I believe the business exchange will follow.”

• With a population of 33,000, Namerikawa is known as a “city of craftsmanship” while retaining its natural environment. The city’s per-capita value of manufacture’s shipment is 84.4 billion yen, the unbeatable No. 1 in Toyama, followed by the second highest of 52.5 billion yen. Another focus of the city is on education and child-care; in 2015, the city opened a children’s library which was designed after the kids’ corner in the Schaumburg public library.

• In addition to the 20 students, the visitors from Namerikawa included eight business representatives, such as the members of the Namerikawa Chamber of Commerce and Junior Chamber International Namerikawa. Ueda said he was hoping that his city could strengthen economic ties with Schaumburg, the No. 2 economic zone in Illinois after Chicago.

What Business Reps Felt

• The eight business representatives from Namerikawa were the members of such diverse local industries as construction, waste disposal, machine tool distribution, gardening, demolition, and home medicine/supplement. Their schedule in the U.S. included a meeting with the Schaumburg Business Association, and tours at Sunstar Inc. and Sugino Corp.

• Yusaku Kinaka, who represents the Junior Chamber International Namerikawa, was “surprised” by the structures and buildings that one can’t normally see in Japan. Owner of a construction business, Kinaka was naturally drawn to the industry and how it’s operated in the U.S.
• “I watched the construction of a parking lot for a while – it was interesting to see that they were using machineries we don’t have in Japan,” Kinaka said. “It might be fun to stay with a family in the same [construction] business.”

• Mikio Hirono of Hirono Co., Ltd., a machine tool distributor, was impressed with the open-mindedness of the people of Schaumburg. “The city has such a big heart to accept us all,” Hirono said.
• The visit gave Hirono a new realization about how hard Japanese businesses were working outside Japan. “It makes me feel that we [businesses in Namerikawa] should engage in international business more actively,” Hirono stressed.
• Sunstar’s effort to make local contributions, aside from the pursuit of profit, also impressed Hirono. “Though located in Namerikawa, I sincerely hope to carry on the torch [of social responsibility] and contribute to world peace,” he added.

Students from Namerikawa

• A total of 20 third-year students from Namerikawa Junior High School and Hayatsuki Junior High School visited Schaumburg, and enjoyed shopping at the Woodfield Mall, a ballgame of the Schaumburg Boomers and a Chicago tour, while staying with their host families.

• Mayu Obata of Hayatsuki Junior High School enjoyed the Chicago Air Show and got the first-hand experience of America as a “multicultural society.” It was something completely new for her which one couldn’t experience in Japan.
• She plans to keep in touch with a new friend she made here via e-mail. “In the English class at school, we are taught just the grammar and accents, but here I could make myself understood by just uttering single words that I know,” she said. “I was anxious before I arrived here, but now I feel that if you just do it you will be all right.”

• Manato Maruno, also from Hayatsuki, tried his English during shopping at the Woodfield Mall. “There are people of many ethnicities [in America], and not everybody is using English – I saw signs written in Korean, for example,” he said. “I feel that the people are living together side by side while using their own language pretty well.”

• Teppei Takata, another Hayatsuki student, is interested in guns and asked his host family about the gun situation in America.
• He found out that, while Illinois, and specifically Schaumburg, is “safe” and the gun holders are not a majority, his host family was “right-leaning” and pro-guns. “I thought it was pretty interesting,” he said.
• Takata didn’t feel communication in English “very hazardous” for him. “I think I can convey what I want to say if I try hard to communicate,” he said. Namerikawa currently has a program for school children to talk to Taiwanese students via Skype.
• Takata feels that Japan is a closed society, while America has a multiple of cultures and ethnicities. “The world is becoming more global, so I think Japan must be more open [to such multiculturalism],” he said.

• Nobuharu Tanigawa, a member of the Namerikawa City Assembly, experienced six years of American life while working for YKK in Atlanta, Georgia from 1987 to 1993.
• He considers it to be his “last job” to establish the Namerikawa-Schaumburg student exchange as a regular program.
• “There’s a financial issue for such a program, so I’m thinking about starting up a fund with a help of the volunteers from the Lions Club,” Tanigawa explained. “My daughters were 11 and 7 when they lived in Atlanta – I want the children in Namerikawa to experience [a life in America]. It’s a life-changing experience.”

Re-learn the History of Schaumburg

• On the first day of arrival, Vice Mayor of Namerikawa Tadashi Ishikawa met with Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson and the village’s Economic Development Manager Matt Frank, who gave a presentation about the history of Schaumburg and its development.

• After incorporated as a village in 1956, Schaumburg came up with a development plan in 1961 which centered on the vision of a community for business as well as for residential properties.
• It was the time when the business was expanding from Chicago to its suburbs, as the highways linking downtown Chicago to the O’Hare International Airport were growing further. The village utilized the trend of the expansion, and launched a plan to offer properties for commercial and industrial use, while constructing parks and educational facilities at the same time. Focusing on balanced development between residential homes, office buildings and industrial facilities, Schaumburg was one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. during the 1960s and 1970s.
• Today, with a population of 75,000, the village contains 30 hotels, 200 restaurants and 70 shopping centers, as well as large-scale facilities that draw visitors from outside the state such as the Woodfield Mall, Medieval Times and Convention Center.

• Motorola Inc., arriving in Schaumburg between the late 1960s and early 1970s, had a huge impact on the village. It brought highly educated workers, such as engineers and mathematicians, and the school districts in Schaumburg developed rapidly in order to provide the required level of education for their children. It also invited companies in the related technological fields, pushing the village’s development furthe

Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson (R) presents Namerikawa Mayor Masataka Ueda a Cubs’ jersey with the key to the city. In return, Ueda presented Larson with a handicraft from Namerikawa.

A key of Schaumburg is given to Mayor Ueda of Namerikawa

Namerikawa businessman group

The students from Hayatsuki High School

The students from Namerikawa High School

Tadashi Ishikawa, Vice Mayor of Namerikawa (C)