Kagoshima and Manchester Deepen Historic Ties

Written by BCCJ
February 28, 2019


Written by BCCJ
February 28, 2019

Officials from Kagoshima, Japan, travelled to Manchester in January for a two-day visit to strengthen relations between the municipalities following their signing of a Friendship Agreement in 2018.

The group from the southern Kyushu prefecture met local officials as part of efforts to foster mutual development, understanding, cooperation and exchange, as outlined in the pact.

The connection between Manchester and Kagoshima dates from 1865. Though Japan had a policy of national seclusion, 19 young men sought to know more about the world. In secret, they departed Hashima in Satsuma Province (modern-day Kagoshima) for Britain, to learn about the Industrial Revolution that was transforming the nation.

Later, the Satsuma Students returned to Japan to take up prominent positions in government, industry and business, driving industrialisation.

On arrival in Southampton, the three travelled to Oldham, at that time the spinning capital of the world. After learning the textile business, they returned to Kagoshima with machinery and spindles, accompanied by Mancunian engineers, to establish the prefecture’s first spinning mill and the foundations of its spinning industry.

Today, specialist textiles remain an important industry for Kagoshima, and the historic mill is a popular tourist attraction.

The January trip built on the successful visit of 15 Japanese high school students to Manchester in 2018 for cultural and educational exchange. After calling on Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor June Hitchen, the group visited the city’s historical sites, including the former stock exchange, library and Science and Industry Museum.

Speaking of the signing, Hitchen said: “The Friendship Agreement recognises our shared history and demonstrates our commitment to developing a modern alliance – increasing cultural understanding and strengthening cooperation while broadening our economic ties.”

Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture Satoshi Mitazono added: “We hope to promote the development of Manchester and Kagoshima and to encourage greater understanding and cooperation through exchanges in educational, cultural and other fields.”

Manchester and Kagoshima are discussing further projects to strengthen the historic Friendship Agreement.