Living in a historically male dominated world, one may not question the term, “brothers” or even “brother cities” -- specifically in terms of a union or partnership. Yet, the term “Sister” often rings as “gender-specific”. Plenty who are unaware of Sister Cities International may assume that its purpose is associated with women.  However, when understanding the vision and actions of “Sister Cities”, many understand why the name is fitting.

The vision of Sister Cities International is to promote prosperity and peace between people and cities worldwide. By establishing people to people relationships, strong partnerships will develop mutual respect and celebration of each other’s cultures. Ultimately, resulting in everlasting bonds between cities that encourage global development based on information, cultural, trade and educational exchange.

In many cultures, the feminine power is that of peace, unity and friendship. The strength of a sisterhood is often empowered by love and understanding. Sister Cities steps outside the layers of politics, indifference and separation in order to communicate and achieve a fair and prosperous relationship between cities. The relationship between Sister City of Los Angeles and Sister City of Nagoya is a reflection of this.

In 1959, the cities of Los Angeles and Nagoya became sister cities. They were each other’s first sisters. Located in the heart of central Japan, Nagoya is known as the crosswords of Japan, as it handles the most volume of international cargo of the Japanese ports. Similar to Nagoya, the city of Los Angeles has port operations bordering the Pacific Ocean.

During War World II, people of Japanese descent in the United States were affected by Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. More than 120,000 people of Japanese descent were placed in internment camps. This order heavily altered the makeup of the city of Los Angeles, particularly the community of Little Tokyo, known for its elaborate cultural and commercial influences.

Despite the aftermath of heavy war tension, the Cities of Los Angeles and Nagoya displayed their sisterhood during their very first year as sisters. In September of 1959, the Ise Bay typhoon struck the southern part of Nagoya, flooding the area. Such havoc left over an estimated 5,000 residents dead, as well as the destruction of numerous homes and businesses. Nagoya couldn’t have been any more vulnerable.  After all, Japan was in the midst of rebuilding its economy post World War II.  At such a devastating time for the city of Nagoya -- the Sister City of Los Angeles stepped up.  The members of Sister City of Los Angeles organized and shipped relief supplies to the citizens of Nagoya.

One may say that, taking the action to give relief to a city outside of one’s own is most certainly a “sister” thing to do. Once again, the feminine power is that of peace. Therefore, it was only natural that the Sister City of Los Angeles set the foundation of its purposeful relationship with the City of Nagoya, by bringing relief.

Author: Amanda Bornfree