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Japanese garden a tribute to Sister State relationship with Hyogo prefecture

Premier Colin Barnett today paid tribute to Western Australia’s strong bonds with Japan as he accepted a traditional garden to mark the Sister State relationship with the prefecture of Hyogo. The Hyogo Friendship Garden was presented by Hyogo Vice Governor Tomoyuki Yoshimoto in a ceremony near Dumas House this morning. The garden is a gift to the people of Perth to mark the 30th anniversary of the Sister State relationship with Western Australia.

The garden was designed by Professor Yue Shen from the University of Hyogo who came from Japan to supervise the garden building project. It took two months to construct and features tiles from Awaji Island, in Hyogo. Mr Shuto from the Awaji Horticulture Institute also came to Perth for 10 days to work on the garden, together with Mr Okitsu, a highly respected tile specialist from Awaji. Mr Aji Morozumi, a Perth-based garden designer, supervised the work.

The Premier said the friendship garden was a symbol of the ties between the two States. “Western Australia and the prefecture of Hyogo share a strong bond that is built on mutual respect and a commitment to a shared future,” he said. “We are proud to say that our Sister State relationship with the prefecture of Hyogo is our oldest. It is a tribute to our relationship that it has grown since starting with the iron ore industry to foster trade, cultural and even sporting ties over many years.”

Mr Barnett said Japan remained one of WA’s most important trading partners and investment by Hyogo-based Kobe Steel and Nippon Steel had brought great benefits to WA. “Japan played a pivotal role in helping this State pioneer iron ore and natural gas industries that are so important to WA’s economy,” he said.

Japanese gardens are small landscapes designed to represent the larger environment. There is a Buddhist connection in their peacefulness and serenity, and in bringing large elements of nature into small environments. The rocks represent water and the plants represent life. “Western Australia’s gift to Hyogo to mark this 30th anniversary was four koalas and these are now among the most popular attractions at the Awaji Farm Park in Japan,” Mr Barnett said.

“One of the koalas has had a baby, so that is a real credit to the park and the way the koalas are being cared for.” The Premier made the announcement on the eve of his visit to China and Japan which starts this weekend. “Japan was my first overseas visit when I was elected in 2008; and so it is pleasing that my first overseas visit on being re-elected is also to Japan and China,” he said.

Fact File

• In 2012 WA’s trade with Japan was valued at $24.9billion (exports and imports)
• WA contributes 45.6% of the total Australian exports to Japan
• The Sister State Relationship was signed in June 1981 by Premier Sir Charles Court and Hyogo Governor Tokitada Sakai
• The WA government office was established in Kobe in 1989 and the Hyogo Prefectural Cultural Office established in Perth in 1992
• The Hyogo Marathon Exchange programme was established in 2012 to support an exchange of runners to compete in the Perth Marathon and Hyogo Marathon on alternative years