In 2014, Hamburg and Osaka are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their twinning with a year long series of events. The Hamburg author Matthias Politycki thus travelled to Osaka as writer-in-residence. His host is the Osaka City University, a long-time partner of the department of Japanese Studies of the University of Hamburg. In Hamburg, the Hamburg chamber of commerce hosted a symposium on “The Future of Energy – Osaka‘s Vision of Smart Cities and Battery Technology“ on occasion of the jubilee, which was attended by a high-ranking delegation headed by Ryuichi Murakami, Vice-Mayor of Osaka. Further highlights of the official celebrations included a talk by Takeshi Nakane, Ambassor to Japan in Germany, a reception by the President of Hamburg‘s Parliament, Carola Veit, and Hamburg‘s First Mayor Olaf Scholz, and an entry in the golden book at Hamburg‘s city hall.
Dynamic exchanges with Japan
Home to more than 100 Japanese companies, including 25 European and 35 German headquarters, Hamburg is one of the country‘s leading locations for East Asia. Already back in 1962, Panasonic discovered Hamburg as a hotspot for economic growth, followed by Olympic in 1963. With more than 2,400 staff, Olympus today is the metro region‘s largest Japanese employer. The Japanese companies do not only trade, but also produce in Hamburg. As an affiliate of Makita Corp., Dolmar manufactures chain saws in Hamburg, Makino produces machine tools, Hosokawa Kreuter special machinery for the sweets industry. All financial matters are being dealt by the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, which opened offices in Hamburg 60 years ago. In total, Japanese companies employ more than 6,000 staff in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The majority of enterprises present in Hamburg originates from Tokyo and the Kansai region, i.e. from Hamburg‘s sister city Osaka and its surrounds. In return, some 550 Hamburg firms maintain business ties with Japan, 35 of them with branches.
Active Japanese community
The Consulate General of Japan in Hamburg actively supports bilateral business ties and closely co-operates with local authorities. Founded in 1959, the Japanese club Nihonjinkai represents the interest of the Japanese community living in Hamburg. Since 1981, their children are guaranteed a proper education within the Japanese system at the Japanese school located in Halstenbek. Dating back to 1968 is a spectacular spring tradition, Hamburg‘s Cherry Blossom Festival. Also in lent, the Japanese Film Festival annually returns with artist reels and audience favourites.
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