PONTIAC — In early November, a delegation from the Shiga Prefectural Government came to Michigan and met with state Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The visit included discussions on ways to strengthen the Japan-Michigan relationship and protect shared environmental priorities like the Great Lakes and Lake Biwa. During the recent in-district work period, Rep. Carter had the opportunity to visit Japan. She met with several Japanese officials to continue the conversation, including those from Pontiac’s sister city in Kusatsu. 

“Over the last 40 years, Pontiac and Kusatsu have formed and fostered a friendship that has changed both our cities for the better,” said Carter. “Nothing we do happens in a vacuum, and sometimes as Americans, I think we tend to forget that. That’s why it’s so important to take opportunities like this one to make connections with our global neighbors. Spending time with our counterparts in the Shiga Prefecture has given me an even greater appreciation for all we have in common. I hope to see this relationship grow stronger in the future.”

Kusatsu and Pontiac became sister-cities in 1978. Since then, both cities have shared exchange students, citizen and governmental envoys, as well as gifts, history and culture. This visit builds upon a 2017 trip for 11 middle school students from Pontiac to Kusatsu for a week as a part of the only middle school exchange program to Japan in the country.