International exchange and cooperation

When the Japan Local Government Centre opened in Sydney in 1994, it became the sixth overseas office of the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). CLAIR is sponsored by Japan's 47 Prefectures and 12 designated large cities under the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs. Local Government in Japan is two tiered, based on the 47 Prefectures, serving the wider or regional area, and 3,232 Municipalities that provide local services.

CLAIR aims to promote international exchange and cooperation through its overseas offices located in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney and Beijing. Director of the Sydney Office is Yoshihiro Tabe. Taking up this position in July last year, he said that Australian, New Zealand and Japanese Local Governments and their communities have much to learn from each other through exchange of information and ideas.

The Sydney Office, located on Level 23 at 1 Macquarie Place Sydney, offers advice and support to strengthen ties, particularly through Sister City relations and other exchange arrangements linking local communities in both countries. There are now 80 Australian/Japanese Sister Cities. World wide, Japan has established 1,224 Sister City relations.

"Importantly, our Centre liaises with appropriate departments and organisations in Australia to secure appointments and inspections for visiting Japanese delegations and will do likewise for Australian officials visiting Japan," Yoshihiro Tabe said.

The Sydney Centre also conducts research on administrative systems in place at the Commonwealth, State and Local level. In addition, it reviews policy issues and reports its findings to Local Governments in Japan. Topics have included economic development programs, reforms to local finance and administrative systems, community development and local level international exchange.

A quarterly newsletter, CLAIR Correspondence, is distributed to all Councils in Australia and New Zealand, and Centre staff are available to answer individual queries.

For further information contact the Japan Local Government Centre, telephone (02) 9241 5033.