Yokohama, Japan has shared a valued sister city relationship with Odesa, Ukraine, since 1965. After Russia’s declaration of war and invasion of Ukraine, many governments and officials around the world have expressed solidarity with Ukraine and condemned Russia’s actions. Yokohama Mayor Takeharu Yamanaka issued a public statement on February 25th:
February 25, 2022 The City of Yokohama strongly condemns the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Having learned that our sister city of Odesa may have been the target of attacks, we are extremely concerned about the safety and well-being of the people of Odesa. This heinous act of violence against Ukraine threatens not only Europe, but the peace and stability of the entire international community. As a Peace Messenger City designated by the United Nations, the City of Yokohama firmly demands that Russia immediately cease hostilities, withdraw its forces from Ukraine, and comply with international law in good faith to help create a lasting peace. YAMANAKA Takeharu Mayor City of Yokohama
On the same day as Mayor Yamanaka’s statement, the six local government organizations of Japan released a declaration of support for Ukraine as well. The six local government organizations of Japan are comprised of: The National Governors’ Association, the National Association of Chairpersons of Prefectural Assemblies, the Japan Association of City Mayors, the National Association of Chairpersons of City Councils, the National Association of Towns and Villages, and National Association of Chairpersons of Town and Village Assemblies. As the Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed closer to the city of Odesa, the city, braced for attack, reached out to Yokohama. Yokohama Mayor Yamanaka, City Council President Shimizu, and Vice President Takahashi took part in an online conference arranged today with Odesa Mayor Trukhanov. Yokohama Mayor Yamanaka expressed his concern for the safety and well-being of the people within both Yokohama’s sister-city of Odesa and that of all Ukrainians. Mayor Yamanaka also shared with Mayor Trukhanov that Yokohama City Hall has been illuminated in the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag, to show that the hearts of Yokohama residents are with the people of Odesa and Ukraine, and that Yokohama, as a Peace Messenger City, is considering ways to show support for the people of Odesa. Odesa Mayor Trukhanov stated, “As Ukraine has been enduring attacks from Russia, the people of Odesa have been engaged in intense preparations to protect their historic and beautiful city. We appreciate the relationship of exchange we have built up with Yokohama over many years, and are heartened by the words of support and goodwill. We hope to continue to build upon our excellent relations in the years to come.” In 1965, Yokohama City in Japan and Odesa City in Ukraine formed a sister city relationship, based on their shared characteristics of being international port cities, and their shared experiences of undergoing largescale reconstruction following World War II. Since then, Yokohama and Odesa have been collaborating closely in many fields, such as healthcare, sports, and culture.