Dear Mayor Matsui,
Dear Ms President Hirota,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many thanks to the city of Osaka and you, Mayor Matsui, for this reception, with which we would like to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the partnership of our cities.
On the 11th of May 1989 Hamburg's First Mayor Voscherau and Osaka's Lord Mayor Nishio signed the declaration of our cities’ partnership.
It says, that Hamburg and Osaka are linked by mutual trust, friendship and understanding for peace in the world. Both cities agreed to cooperate in business, science, technology, culture and other areas for the mutual benefit of both sides.
We achieved this very successfully.
Exchange programmes for young people were created so that they get to know their partner city and can discover the culture of the partner country.
New cooperations between universities and research institutions in Hamburg, Osaka and other partners in Japan have emerged – in the fields of cultural sciences, physics or in the development of new technologies for renewable energies.
Hamburg and Osaka are connected by strong networks. These include, for example,
- the German-Japanese Society in Hamburg,
- the German-Japanese Association of Jurists,
- the Hamburg Karate Association,
- the International College of Music
- and the German Asia-Pacific Business Association.
A highlight of the close friendship between Japan and Hamburg is the traditional Cherry Blossom Festival, which has been celebrated in our city for over 50 years.
Osaka has a firm place in Hamburg – for example in the street “Osakaallee” in the HafenCity, or in the Japanese Garden in our traditional park “Planten und Blomen”.
I am very happy that we will continue to deepen our friendship.
Mayor Matsui and I signed a joint declaration today.
Hamburg and Osaka want to work more closely together on the important issues of the future. These include climate protection and digitalization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The cooperation between the port cities of Hamburg and Osaka has a tradition going back more than 150 years. Japan is today one of Germany's most important trading partners. The port of Hamburg is Japan's gateway to Europe.
About 450 Hamburg companies do business with Japan, more than 80 of them have their own branch offices here.
Around 100 Japanese companies are based in Hamburg, including 60 European and German headquarters.
The Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan, which entered into force on the 1st of February this year, is a great opportunity for Germany and Japan to work together even more.
JEFTA is a modern agreement which, in addition to linking our markets, also contains high standards of protection for consumers, the environment and workers.
These are excellent prospects for Germany and Japan and for their major economic centres, Hamburg and Osaka.
I am looking forward to meeting many friends of Hamburg in person tonight and wish you all interesting conversations.
Thank you very much.