On 25 August 2016, the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in East Lansing was honored to receive a visit from the governor of Shiga Prefecture, Taizō Mikazuki. Governor Mikazuki came to Michigan on a short trip to welcome the delegates of the annual Goodwill Mission. On the Goodwill Mission, a group of Michigan citizens travel to Shiga and live with Japanese host families in odd years, which is then reciprocated when a group of Shiga citizens travel to Michigan and live with American host families in even years (such as 2016).
Governor Mikazuki accompanied over 40 Goodwill Mission participants to the program’s welcome ceremony in Lansing, Michigan. He was joined by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Consul General of Japan Mitsuhiro Wada from the Consulate in Detroit, Deputy Director General of Department of Commerce Industry, Tourism and Labor Tomoyuki Yamaguchi, and President of the Michigan-Shiga Sister State Board Mary Hall-Thiam. During the welcome ceremony, the two governors celebrated the strong ties between Michigan and Shiga. Both expressed a hope that participants would enjoy their time in Michigan and experience the natural beauty and diverse culture of Michigan.
Prior to the festivities, Governor Mikazuki visited the JCMU East Lansing office at Michigan State University. He met with JCMU Director Kate Simon and Dr. Rob Glew, Associate Dean from MSU’s International Studies & Programs. The group discussed a variety of topics related to the Michigan-Shiga sister state relationship, including Governor Mikazuki’s and Ms. Simon’s mutual desire to focus on increasing engagement in the sister state relationship among young people as a way to strengthen the relationship and associated programs. They also briefly discussed the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Michigan-Shiga sister state relationship, which will be celebrated both in Japan (in 2017) and in the United States (in 2018). Governor Mikazuki relayed to Ms. Simon the different themes he hopes to incorporate into the anniversary events, and expressed excitement for the two states to achieve such an amazing milestone.
Lansing local news station WLNS Channel 6 featured Governor Mikazuki’s visit on their website in the video above . JCMU would like to thank Governor Mikazuki for taking the time to meet with our East Lansing staff, and engaging with the citizens of Michigan to help strengthen the ties between Michigan and Shiga Prefecture. For more information about the the relationship shared between the two states, please visit the Michigan-Shiga Sister State Program website.