- 岩手県立大学盛岡短期大学部研究論集 = Bulletin of Morioka Junior College Iwate Prefectural University (ISSN:13489720)
- vol.6, pp.9-21, 2004-03-01
It was in October 1998 that we started our research project titled "The Present State and Prospect of the International Sister-City Relationships in Iwate Prefecture" with the grant from the Iwate Prefectural Foundation for Promoting Academic Research. The reason we had chosen this subject was that "international educational and research activities" have been shown as one of the founding ideals of Iwate Prefectural University. At the same time, with the arrival of the international and global era enhanced by high-level information technology, we thought we might be able to propose or raise some problems by studying the present state of international exchanges in Iwate Prefecture. We learned that Ofunato City, a harbor city on the coast of the Pacific Ocean has a sister-city, Palos de la Frontera, at the south-western tip of Spain, and that the two cities concluded the sister-city agreement on August 12, 1992. In order to make research on the relationship of both cities, we visited Ofunato City in September 1999 and then the City of Palos de la Frontera in February 2001. This paper is the result of our visits, based on the interviews we made, as well as the materials obtained on those occasions. Everything started on May 24, 1989 when Dr. Harutsugu Yamaura, a well-known scholar of "Kesen" (Ofunato area) culture and language, encouraged the members of Ofunato Junior Chamber of Commerce to invite the restored Santa Maria to Ofunato Harbor. The Santa Maria was restored celebrating the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the new world, and it was scheduled that she would call at Kobe Harbor in 1992. According to Dr. Yamaura, Columbus sailed out from Spain, specifically from the harbor of Palos de la Frontera, originally aiming at Jipang, which might have been Kesen, the land of gold. Ofunato City decided to invite the Santa Maria to anchor at its harbor in 1992, which happened to be the year of the city's 40th anniversary. Ofunato is said to have a historical relationship with Spain as Captain Sebastian Viscaino, under orders of the king of Spain, sailed into the harbor of Ofunato in 1611 to explore the gold mines in Kesen area. The mayor of Ofunato, together with the chairman of the City Council and citizens, did attend the sailing out ceremony of the restored Santa Maria at Barcelona in July, 1991. The delegation of Ofunato City, taking advantage of the opportunity, visited the City of Palos de la Frontera, where Columbus set out for his first voyage westward. Soon after that visit, the City of Palos de la Frontera sent a message expressing its ardent wish to have a sister-city relationship with the City of Ofunato. Urged, as it were, by the City of Palos de la Frontera, the City Conucil and the mayor of Ofunato finally approved the proposal of a sister-city relationship. On the day when the restored Santa Maria arrived at Ofunato Harbor on August 12, 1992, the sister-city agreement was formally concluded. The following year, in November 1993, Ofunato City sent its delegation to the City of Palos de la Frontera in return for the visit of the mayor and two council members of Palos de la Frontera to Ofunato. However, there have been few mutual exchange visits since 1994 from either city and the current state of the relationship is a sort of hibernation or dormancy. Visiting the two cities, we learned that their relationship, or the situation they have come to, is one in which two sisters, although they have friendly kinship feelings themselves, do not have the common language to make themselves understood properly. The City of Palos de la Frontera is proud of being "Cuna del Descubrimiento de America" and Ofunato City, of being the center of golden homeland Kesen. The physical distance between the two cities is, as the mayor of Palos de la Frontera told us, the most serious problem even in this global era, and another problem lies in the language differences. The improvement or strengthening of the relationship of two cities, although they are in the sticks in their respective countries, will certainly contribute, as written in their agreement, not only to the peace of the world but to the welfare of human beings.