Kanagawa Prefecture has a population of over 9 million (as of Aug 2013) and is governed by Yuji Kuroiwa. Interest in the creation of a Sister State relationship was first proposed between Governor Nagasu and Governor Hughes with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 1980. The following year, the formal Sister State relationship was established on April 23, 1981 in Annapolis, MD. The sister state relationship started because of similarities between the two states; both Kanagawa and Maryland have mountains, beaches, a large bay and a busy port and are located next to their respective nation’s capital. Through this Sister State relationship, Kanagawa and Maryland have maintained close ties in various areas, such as business and education. In addition to the sister state relationship, Kawasaki City in Kanagawa and Baltimore City in Maryland are sister cities.
In 1983, the Kanagawa International Foundation established the Maryland English Teacher Program. This program welcomed Maryland teachers to Kanagawa for 1 – 2 years, fostering a share of educational ideals and friendship. Stemming from this exchange, Maryland and Kanagawa now have 12 sister high schools and each sister high school has initiated its own exchange program. The Maryland Kanagawa sister state program has created various committees to help with specific fields such as sports, education, business, and women’s issues. In 2006, Maryland hosted Japanese lacrosse teams in “Friendship Games” in Maryland. Maryland sent boys and girls youth lacrosse teams in summer 2007 and Kanagawa based Keio High School lacrosse team toured Maryland in 2009 and 2011. The women’s committee has focused on issues around population aging and has exchanged information with Kanagawa Prefecture since 2000. In 2005, Kanagawa Prefecture opened a branch of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Annapolis, MD, assisting US companies to expand business to Kanagawa.
In October, 2011, Maryland hosted a delegation from Kanagawa lead by Governor Kuroiwa to celebrate the relationships 30th anniversary. The anniversary reception was held at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. In May 2013, a trip was organized for Governor Kuroiwa to announce the establishment of the Special R&D Zone for Life Innovation in Kanagawa. Governor Kuroiwa made his way to Annapolis to have a private meeting with Governor Martin O’Malley on May 9th and was accompanied by Secretary of State John McDonough. During this meeting, both governors discussed ways to strengthen the sister state relationship in a more meaningful way, especially in the area of life science.
English language contest winners from Kanagawa, Japan visit Maryland for a week in mid-March as part of a student exchange program. On March 17, these students toured the State House and met with Deputy Secretary of State Luis Borunda. The Kanagawa Prefecture is one of the most active Maryland Sister States relationships.
Kikko Okajima Murray, Chair
Maryland Kanagawa Sister State Program Executive Committee
Taisuke Higuchi, Director
Kanagawa Office in Maryland
c/o Office of the Secretary of State