Mag Mile and Midosuji Become “Sister Streets”
To Commemorate 45th Anniversary of
Chicago-Osaka Sister City Relations
• The signing ceremony was held at NoMi Kitchen in the Park Hyatt, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura signed the agreement. Attendees were the members of Osaka delegation including several Osaka City Council members; John Chikow, President and CEO of the Magnificent Mile Association; Naoki Ito, Consul General of Japan in Chicago; Leroy Allala, Executive Director of Chicago Sister Cities International; Yoko Noge and Kimiyo Naka, both co-Chair of Sister Cities’ Osaka Committee, and other supporters.
• Chikow said, “The two boulevards are fitting because
they share many attributes that make them distinctive world class destinations,
beautiful tree lines, and important retail, restaurant and hotel offerings
benefit residents and millions of visitors each year, and they are economic
drivers for our two cities.”
• Mayor Emanuel welcomed Mayor Yoshimura and Osaka Delegation
and said, “I cannot think about better way to commemorate cooperation
and collaboration between the two cities. We have a lot to learn from
• Osaka Mayor Yoshimura greeted saying, “I would like
to further develop our mutual cooperation and exchanges in order to accomplish
more for our attractive communities and cities,” and introduced Osaka’s
plan for bidding the 2025 World Exposition with a theme “Designing Future
Society for Our Lives.” He also revealed that Osaka had been named to
host G20 summit in June, 2019.
• After the signing ceremony, supporters of Chicago-Osaka sister cities made a parade on the Magnificent Mile between E. Chestnut St. and E. Superior St. The 30-minute parade was led by the Chindon Tsushin Sha, which was consisted of four street performers who came from Osaka to celebrate the 45th anniversary. The parade drew people’s attention, and many of them were taking photos.
Osaka Delegation Visits Chicago to Celebrate
• The delegation was led by Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura and included several Osaka city officials and council members. The commemorative events included a mayoral meeting as well as the anniversary reception, Chicago and Osaka Garden tours for the delegation, a ceremonial first pitch at the Chicago Cubs game, and the signing of the “Sister Street Agreement” between Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” Michigan Avenue and Osaka’s Midosuji Boulevard.
• As reported previously, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
and Osaka Mayor Yoshimura signed the Sister Street Agreement on June 6,
making the two main streets symbols of growing ties between the two cities.
• A 30-minute parade on the Magnificent Mile followed
the signing ceremony, led by the Chindon Tsushin Sha from Osaka, an advertising
band for hire, and attended by the supporters of the sister-city partnership.
The band played a tune called “Rokko oroshi,” the theme song of Osaka-based
baseball team Hanshin Tigers.
• The 45th Anniversary Reception was held the following day at 360 Chicago, formerly known as John Hancock Observatory. Noting that he was “younger than the history of the sister-city relationship,” Yoshimura, 43, said he would aim to further develop mutual cooperation between the two cities. He also thanked Yoko Noge and Kimiyo Naka, co-Chairs of the Chicago Sister Cities International Osaka Committee, as well as the individual and corporate supporters for their continuing support.
• More anniversary events are to come, including Emanuel’s Osaka visit this month and Chicago women’s mentorship visit to Osaka in October. In March 2019, about 10 Osaka high school students will visit Chicago to obtain overseas experience and English language training, paid by the city of Osaka.
• Chicago has the Osaka Garden, a Japanese garden built
on the Wooded Island in Jackson Park, the site where the now lost Ho-o-den
(Phoenix Pavilion) had been constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian
Exposition. It was named the Osaka Japanese Garden in 2003 when an entrance
gate was added to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Chicago-Osaka
Sister Cities partnership.
Interview with Osaka City Council Members
• While showing enthusiasm for a continuing development of the sister-city relationship with Chicago, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura has been a leading promoter of the “Osaka Metropolis Plan” to dissolve the city of Osaka and create “fu,” a metropolis instead of the existing prefecture. A leading member of an Osaka-based political party Osaka Ishin no Kai (“Ishin no Kai”) or the Osaka Restoration Association, Yoshimura has also announced the severing of Osaka’s sister-city ties with San Francisco upon the latter’s approval for erecting a comfort woman statue. Will Osaka’s future with Chicago be safe? What should we expect to happen to the sister city relationship between Osaka and Chicago? The city Council members accompanying the Osaka delegation answered these questions.
The Osaka Metropolis Plan: Council Member Junko Tsuji
• Representing Osaka’s Nishinari Ward, Tsuji is now serving her 4th term as an Osaka council member in her 15th year. Her father, a member of Japan’s leading Liberal Democratic Party (“LDP”), was also a council member before her. Tsuji, a former LDP member, switched over to the newly formed Ishin no Kai eight years ago. The party’s stated visions for reforms deeply impressed her, Tsuji said. “I had a strong feeling that something had to be done.”
Q: Could you explain the current relationship between the city of Osaka and the Osaka prefecture?
• Tsuji: Osaka is the smallest prefecture in Japan in
terms of area. The city of Osaka is situated right in the middle of it,
and it contains all the potentials for growth [for both the prefecture
and the city]. That has intensified competition between the two for the
resources and money, and that’s just wasteful.
Q: What is the Osaka Metropolis Plan?
• Tsuji: It’s the same as Tokyo [in terms of the administrative
structure]. For example, large-scale projects such as tourism and industry
will be handled by a new executive office, “to” (or metropolis), while
the city of Osaka will be dissolved and subdivided into four special wards,
each containing approximately 700,000 residents. The wards will be municipalities
that have control over their own elections, health care, welfare, education,
Q: Who is opposing the Metropolis Plan?
• Tsuji: Both the LDP and the Japanese Communist Party
are against it. So is the New Komeito party.
Q: How is Osaka changing today?
• Tsuji: Osaka has more visitors from abroad today -
once they were about 1.64 million, and now the number has reached 11 million.
Q: Thank you very much.
Future of the Sister Cities: Council Member Taeko Kitano
• An LDP member, Taeko Kitano was first elected in 2005 from the Yodogawa Ward and is now serving her 4th term as an Osaka City Council member.
Q: Mayor Yoshimura has announced the dissolution of sister-city ties with San Francisco. Do you think there’s a risk for the same thing to happen with Chicago?
• Kitano: I’ve said we’ll definitely celebrate the 50th
anniversary with Chicago.
Q: What is your view on the Osaka Metropolis Plan and the sister city relationship?
• Kitano: Mr. Yoshimura is the one who is promoting the
Metropolis Plan. As a sister city agreement is based on the premise that
the two cities have a similar size of population and economy, it doesn’t
make sense to divide up one of the parties, Osaka, into four smaller wards
and collectively call them a partner of Chicago.
Q: Thank you very much.
A parade to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of Chicago-Osaka sister city relations. Chindon Tsushinsha from Osaka and Yoko Noge, co-Chair of Chicago Sisiter Cities International Osaka Committee lead the parade. Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura and Consul General Naoki Ito march on Mag Mile with other supporters.
Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura shakes hands with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel after signing "Sister Street Agreement."