Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), Government of Maharashtra, announced that the State of Maharashtra and Wakayama Prefecture of Japan had completed ten years of cordial relations and are now renewing the relationship. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Eknath Shinde signed the MoU renewal agreement with the Hon’ble Governor of Wakayama, Mr. Kishimoto Shuhei, in the presence of the Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, Shri Mangal Prabhat Lodha, Minister of Tourism, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Women & Child Development, GoM, and other esteemed dignitaries on Friday, February 3, 2023.
The MoU renewal signing ceremony was attended by a delegation of 58 representatives, including Wakayama officials, Trade & Business delegates, Sumo Wrestlers, other Wrestlers, etc. A special event was also organized to highlight Maharashtra’s Kusti and Wakayama’s Sumo forms of wrestling. The MoU between the two is renewed for the next five years- until Oct 2028.
The event commenced with the inaugural address by Shri Saurabh Vijay, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, welcoming the delegates and introducing this relationship.
Speaking at the occasion, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Eknath Shinde, stated, “It is an auspicious occasion as we mark a decade of friendly relations of Maharashtra and Wakayama Prefecture of Japan. We look forward to strengthening this relationship with mutual understanding and learning with the exchange of ideas in the areas of tourism, agro-industries, food processing, and other avenues with a shared interest.”
In his address, the Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, highlighted, “The cordial relations between Maharashtra and Wakayama Prefecture of Japan have flourished in a decade. I consider myself fortunate to witness it closely. It is an honour that Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue is installed at Koyasan University in Wakayama. We have always focused on cross-cultural relations and holistic development through cooperation.”
Emphasizing the ten years of bilateral ties between Maharashtra and Wakayama Prefecture of Japan, the Hon’ble Governor of Wakayama, Mr. Kishimoto Shuhei, said, “I’m delighted to be a part of this MoU renewal ceremony, marking 10 years of a strong friendship with Maharashtra. The friendly relations between Maharashtra and Wakayama started in 2013, and since then the relations between the two have grown stronger. It is our honor to have the statue of Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar installed at Koyasan University in Wakayama. During the ceremony, we witnessed traditional games of both sides ‘Kusti’ and ‘Sumo’; we look forward to strengthening our ties in sports as well.”
The Hon’ble Minister for Tourism, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Women & Child Development GoM, Shri Mangal Prabhat Lodha, highlighting the potential of Maharashtra in the sector of Tourism, said, “As a part of the bilateral ties between Maharashtra and Wakayama, several initiatives have taken place over last ten years that has contributed to the various sectors including tourism of Maharashtra. The most notable amongst many is as installation of Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue in Koyasan University Wakayama signifies the deepening relations.”
The Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, visited Wakayama for the Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Statue installation ceremony, Tourism roadshow, industrial and business meetings in Tokyo and Osaka in 2015. A Maharashtrian cultural program at Ginza Square was also held with the help of Wakayama.
MTDC has always served as the nodal agency to promote cordial relations. Over ten years, many projects in tourism were conducted with enthusiasm between MTDC and Wakayama prefecture of Japan, such as Yashada training in Wakayama for civic officers from Maharashtra, Omotenashi Japanese Hospitality Training for MTDC & ASI, Heritage Education for School Children, Japanese Guide training, MoU between Hongu Visitor Centre in Wakayama and Ajanta Visitor Centre, Ajanta near Aurangabad, MoU between Koyasan University & Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar University Aurangabad, MTDC information office was opened in Tokyo and Wakayama office in Aurangabad and Mumbai under MTDC, officers are deputed from Wakayama to these offices, familiarization tours for Travel Agents through exchange program wherein travel agents from Maharashtra visited Wakayama and travel agents from Wakayama visited Maharashtra, participation in Tourism promotion shows, etc.
The MoU has helped good relations between the states, cross-cultural understanding, promotion of Tourism, best practices training, and bilateral ties in general. It has been hailed as one of the most successful MoUs in Japan with an Indian State.
The event concluded with a vote of thanks presented by Smt. Shraddha Joshi Sharma, Managing Director, MTDC.
The Kusti and Sumo Wrestling demonstration matches were the special attraction of the event.
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