By Trevor Busch
For a few hours during Cornfest 2016, the Town of Taber will be trading Canada’s maple leaf for Japan’s rising sun.
At their Aug. 15 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously (6-0) to fly the flag of Japan on Aug. 26 at the Administration Building, in recognition of the visit of Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe of Japan to Taber. Coun. Jack Brewin was absent from the Aug. 15 meeting.
“In discussion with Mr. (Doug) Emek, in regards to the visit from the consul-general (Kunihiko Tanabe) of Japan, he suggested that it would be quite nice that when the consul-general is here if we could fly the flag of Japan in front of the Administration Building for the duration of his visit,” said Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux.
The Town of Taber entered into a twinning agreement with the Town of Notogawa in 1982. Since that time, Notogawa was amalgamated into a larger urban unit, Higashiomi City, but the twinning agreement continues.
Tanabe is the current consul-general assigned to the Consulate-General of Japan in Calgary.
“I know I think it was the plan to have some flag standards on the stage during the opening ceremonies,” said Mayor Henk DeVlieger. “I know that is planned. He’s only here for two hours.”
In 1999, a non-profit society was formed to facilitate cross-cultural friendship and goodwill between the citizens of Taber and Notogawa, including student exchanges. The Taber Notogawa Friendship Society was essentially given the responsibility for maintaining the twinning relationship with Notogawa. In 2005, the Town of Notogawa amalgamated with five other towns in Shiga Prefecture (Yokaichi, Eigenji, Gokasho, Koto, and Gamoto) to form the new community of Higashiomi City. Along with Taber, Higashiomi City is twinned with cities in Korea, China, the U.S., and Sweden.
Several Alberta municipalities are twinned with Japanese counterparts, including members of the Alberta/Japan Twinned Municipalities Association, such as Jasper, Taber, Rocky Mountain House, Stony Plain, Camrose, Bon Accord, Brooks, Lacombe, Canmore, Stettler, Crowsnest Pass, Wetaskiwin, Barrhead, Hanna, Whitecourt, Hinton, Didsbury, and the Lethbridge Okinawa Cultural Society and Lethbridge Twinning Society. Nine of such municipal twinnings are in Hokkaido.
Coun.(s) Strojwas and Ross-Giroux, including CAO Greg Birch, recently returned from a trip to Higashiomi City, Japan in 2016 as official council representatives on the twinning delegation.
“It would be nice. When we left Japan, they were nice enough in front of their city hall when we left, there was a maple leaf flag flying, just in recognition of our visit,” said Ross-Giroux. “I think for a couple of hours it wouldn’t hurt to recognize the importance of his visit.”
At their June 13 regular meeting, town council had voted unanimously to invite Consul-General Kunihiko Tanabe of Japan to Cornfest.