Lent, city leaders journey to Japan

Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.
Bremerton dignitaries arrive in Kure, Japan.

You may have noticed Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent hasn’t been in her office this lately. In fact, she isn’t even on this continent. Early last week, she led a local delegation to Kure, Japan, Bremerton’s sister city.

It’s a tradition that dates back 47 years, following a call from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to establish “people-to-people” partnerships including sister cities. The Lions Clubs of both Kure and Bremerton formally established ties in 1969. Since then, 153 exchange students have gone to Kure from Bremerton for the summer; 153 from Kure have also come here.

Every five years, a delegation from Kure comes to Bremerton and in the same time period, a delegation from Bremerton goes to Japan. Kure’s delegation was last here in 2014; Bremerton was to go last year but Kure officials asked them to wait so that their new city hall building could be completed.

Kure is much bigger than Bremerton — about 228,000 people live there compared with our own 39,000 — but they’re both communities with a rich shipyard history.

“It’s vibrant, it’s exciting, and it’s really a cultural exchange both cities benefit from,” Lent said by phone from Kure this past week.

No city tax money was spent on the trip — everyone paid out of their own pocket, according to Elaine Valencia, the mayor’s executive assistant.

Along with the mayor, City Council President Eric Younger, City Councilwoman Pat Sullivan and Bremerton Water Resources Manager Kathleen Cahall are among those in the delegation. Both Younger and Sullivan hosted exchange students in recent years. A number of Bremerton Lions Club members are also in attendance.

Lent, who also spent time at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka on the trip, will return home toward the end of this week, along with the others.

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