Japan honors Shoreham man for efforts to improve cultural understanding

MONTPELIER/SHOREHAM — As the state of Vermont cemented ties with the Japanese prefecture of Tottori last month, Japanese officials were also praising a Shoreham-based organization and its leader for improving understanding between the Asian nation and the Green Mountain State.
Gov. Phil Scott and Gov. Shinji Hirai of Tottori Prefecture, Japan, in July signed a Sister State Agreement between Vermont and Tottori, Japan’s smallest prefecture. The agreement aims to promote increased exchange between the two regions, including youth exchange, professional exchange, tourism and commerce.
After the signing, the governors exchanged keys and hosted a reception in the Cedar Creek Room in the Statehouse that included a koto performance by Misuki Ohnishi-san.
That same week, Peter Lynch, executive director of Green Across the World, received a commendation from Consul-General Rokuichiro Michii of the Japanese Consulate in Boston. Lynch’s commendation is for “distinguished service in contributing to the deepening of mutual understanding and friendship between Vermont and Japan.” Green Across the World, or GATW, is a Shoreham nonprofit dedicated to cultural and environmental awareness and cooperation that facilitates annual reciprocal exchanges for high school students in Tottori and Vermont.
VERMONT GOV. PHIL Scott and Gov. Shinji Hirai of Tottori, Japan, sign a Sister State Agreement while Japanese Consul-General Rokuichiro Michii looks on in a Statehouse ceremony.
Courtesy photo
“I am honored and humbled to receive this commendation in light of the long list of others who have contributed to building the relationship between Vermont and Tottori,” Lynch said.
Former GATW board member Reiko Kida and her husband, Masatoshi Kida, of the University of Vermont Medical Center received a similar commendation.
“On the face of it, one wouldn’t think there would be much in common between Vermont and Tottori, Japan,” Scott said. “After all, we are over 6,000 miles apart and do not share the same language. However, there are many similarities, from our small populations to our beautiful mountains and outdoor recreation. Vermont looks forward to continuing our relationship with Tottori and to broaden the exchanges to include tourism and trade between the two regions.”
The relationship between Vermont and Tottori began two decades ago when then-Vice Gov. Hirai met with then-Gov. Howard Dean, and supported an agreement that fostered educational and cultural exchanges between adults and students in both regions, including exchanges between students at Tottori University’s Medical School and University of Vermont’s College of Medicine.
In 2008, Gov. Hirai returned to Vermont to sign a Friendship Agreement with Gov. Jim Douglas. Over the next decade, Tottori Prefectural International Exchange Foundation (TPIEF) and GATW set up many exchanges between Vermont and Japan, with the Japanese students often staying in and touring Addison County.
“We are both … small in population,” Gov. Hirai said at the agreement signing. “But, we have the power to develop ourselves, which is why we are here. I’m pleased to come to Vermont with my people to explore the beautiful state of Vermont.”
AFTER VERMONT GOV. Phil Scott (center) and Gov. Shinji Hirai of Tottori, Japan, (second from right) signed a friendship agreement the leaders pose with Peter Lynch of Green Across the World (left), Reiko Kida and Masatoshi Kida.
Courtesy photo
Lynch described the Japanese state with which Vermont is now formally associated.
“Tottori is a wonderful prefecture that lies along the Sea of Japan in western Japan,” he said. “It is Japan’s smallest prefecture with a population of about 600,000, and beautiful scenery. People are exceptionally friendly. Despite widely different culture and language, we share similar challenges associated with building sustainable rural economies. There is a great opportunity to learn from each other.”
Lynch also signed a Sister Organization agreement between GATW and the TPIEF during a welcome dinner for Gov. Hirai on July 17. TPIEF and GATW agreed to continue youth exchange activities that the organizations have shared for going on eight years.
Green Across the World has its headquarters in Shoreham and is dedicated to improving cultural and environmental awareness and cooperation around the world. To learn more call 802-897-5232 or go online to greenacrosstheworld.org.

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