Oda, officials return from trip to Takahashi City, Japan


By Matt Clevenger

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TROY — Representatives from the city of Troy and the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce have returned from a recent trade mission to Troy’s sister city Takahashi City, Japan, after visiting for the first time in four years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s been four years since we went the last time,” Troy Director of Public Service and Safety Patrick Titterington said. “We skipped a cycle; the last time we went was 2019.”

Titterington, Troy Mayor Robin Oda and Troy Chamber of Commerce President Joseph Graves left on Friday, May 12, to participate in the trade mission trip. The group returned to Troy on Saturday, May 21, after visiting with officials from Takahashi City and representatives from Honda Logistics (Komyo), Lintec (Spinnaker), F-Tech (F & P America) and Honda Motors.

“The goal was to go visit the headquarters of five of our Japanese companies,” Oda said.

“We’re always looking at growth opportunities,” Graves said. “Eighty percent of all new jobs come from existing industry, so it’s very important to have a relationship with your existing industries.”

“We want to make sure that they know we’re here to work for them, and assist them in their growth in the future,” he said.

Troy mayors have visited Takahashi City regularly since the sister-city relationship was started more than 30 years ago. Officials from Takahashi City have also made regular visits to Troy, and the cities share a long-running student exchange program.

“They started back when our sister-city relationship started, and that’s been 33 years now,” Titterington said.

“Trade missions are an important part of staying in touch with our local businesses,” Oda said. “It’s easy to stay in touch with your companies that are from here, but not when you have foreign investors and foreign businesses.”

The group also visited with representatives from the Jobs Ohio program and Mayor Kondo from Takahashi City, who led them on a tour of other local sites including a Hina Doll factory, a traditional sake distillery and Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle. Other stops included Fukiya village where the group participated in a special tea ceremony, and a local TV station where Oda was interviewed for Japanese television audiences.

During the trip, the group also rode a bullet train traveling approximately 200 miles per-hour and visited Takahashi Jonan High School, where they talked with students studying robotics, mathematics and graphic arts.

Takahashi City has a population similar to Troy’s, Titterington said, but covers a larger area.

“It’s very different,” Oda said. “Their city government runs their hospitals, the schools and the health department.”

“Their population is going down, because their young people leave and don’t come back,” she said. “They are struggling to retain their population. They were very interested in the fact that we are seeing growth.”

“They think very highly of the student exchange, and the relationship they’ve had with the city of Troy,” Graves said. “It’s very important to continue those relationships in the future.”

“It’s truly a long-distance friendship,” he said.

The student exchange will resume in August, Oda said, and Kondo is also preparing for a visit to Troy sometime in the future.

“The student exchange will start up again this summer,” she said. “They plan to bring 11 students and three adults.”

“Next year, probably around this time, we’re planning on hosting the mayor and whoever he brings,” Titterington said. “We’re thinking later, in July or August, we’ll probably send a delegation of students over there.”

The city is also currently working to resume an artwork exchange with Takahashi City.

“That’s the other piece of cultural outreach that we want to do,” Titterington said. “Once or twice in the past, we’ve done an artwork exchange through the high school art programs.”

“The sister city relationship is a key part of the Japanese business culture,” he said. “The Japanese companies know and appreciate that we have a serious sister city relationship that we’ve nurtured over 33 years.”

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