Great Achievements in Civilian Diplomacy – Sabac City Mayor and Delegation Visit Fujimi City
The relationship between Serbia and Japan is based on mutual respect, underlined by a long and rich history of over 140 years. It is no exaggeration to say that these good relations were created not only through political and economic ties but also through heartwarming exchanges between people and grassroots diplomacy.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Sabac and Fujimi. However, if we look at the history of both countries, we can trace private diplomacy with Fujimi City back to the early days of World War I.
Today’s Fujimi City was formed by the merger of three villages. One of them is Mizutani Village (now Fujimi City). The mayor of Mizutani Village at the time was saddened by the damage done to Serbia in World War I and said, “Serbia is in a situation where it is not possible to support their families due to the unprecedented war. Serbians also have families; they have brothers and sisters, they have kids, and they have elderly, they can’t feed them.” Calls for support spread throughout Japan, and a Serbian relief committee was established. After that, it was officially decided to provide assistance to Serbia, delivering relief supplies through the Japanese Red Cross Society.
This year, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sister city agreement, the Sabac City delegation visited Fujimi City, Saitama Prefecture for four days, from October 20 – 23. Around the same time, Fujimi City held an annual Furusato Matsuri Festival, but since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the city, the festival was celebrated on a grander scale. The Sabac city delegation, led by Mayor Aleksandar Pajić, Ambassador Aleksandra Kovač, and staff of the Embassy of Serbia in Japan, were invited to the commemorative festival and celebrated with all in attendance.
At the opening ceremony of the Furusato Matsuri Festival, Ambassador Kovač touched on the long and close relationship between the two countries and expressed his appreciation for the contribution of the city of Fujimi. During last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Fujimi City also served as a training camp for the Serbian wrestling team. Such contributions and support from Fujimi City led to the wonderful result of Zurab Datunashvili winning the bronze medal. Taking this visit as an opportunity, Sabac City and Fujimi City concluded an agreement on
the implementation of the “School Exchange Program” in order to further develop the good relationship they have had thus far. Creating an environment where children can come into contact with foreign cultures from an early age will surely be a plus for their future.
The delegation from Sabac and the Embassy of Serbia in Japan participated in the opening ceremony of the Furusato Matsuri, followed by a tour of the Fujimi Civic Cultural Center Kirari☆Fujimi and the Fujimi City Library, and finally attended a celebratory dinner. Aleksandra Kovač, who speaks Japanese very well, is also very popular here. With this warm exchange of hearts, the party ended a busy but heartwarming day.