This September weekend was special for Kaunas city. On September 16 th and 17 th Kanagawa prefecture Hiratsuka city municipality representatives Junichi Inoue (vice mayor), Tadashi Hara (manager of city policy), Keiko Shibasaki (city policy), Ayako Sakurai (city policy) and Japan - Lithuania Exchange Center members Kazutaka Doi (director) and Kenjiro Tamaki (representative director) visited Kaunas with a purpose to get a deeper understanding of Lithuanian traditions, education, social and health care systems as well as to discuss possible areas of future co-operation between Kaunas and Hiratsuka cities. Early Saturday morning guests were greeted by Vasilijus Popovas (Kaunas vice mayor, responsible for education), Dainius Pavalkis (Kaunas mayor public advisor for education and health care system, Lithuanian university of health science professor) and Rasa Bortkevičienė (director of Kaunas in-service Teacher Training Centre).

While working as a Minister of science and education, prof. D. Pavalkis started succesful relations with Japanese Minister of science and paid a lot attention for creation of bilateral relations. This can be proved by examples of Life Sciences Baltics conference and successfully developing partnership with Japan. „Kaunas and Hiratsuka cities co-operation is a beneficial possibility for both cities. Different cultures, historical experience and institutional network open new spaces for learning and sharing knowledge in fields of education, health care or culture. We are sure that the first Hiratsuka delegation visit will lay a strong foundation for common activities in the future“, - stated professor.

In the name of Kaunas city mayor, Hiratsuka city delegation was also greeted by vice mayor V. Popovas. „Lithuanian education system was constantly changing and had to survive a lot of reforms. However, I cannot claim that today there is no more space for improvements. Education system is especially dynamic and requires permanent renewal of knowledge,“ – claimed V. Popovas, evaluating results of Lithuanian education system. It is being planned that namely education could become the first area for bilateral co-operation. Although, the possibility of mutual activities in medicine, culture and business sectors was also not excluded.

According to Kaunas in-service Teachers Training Centre director Rasa Bortkevičienė, the first delegation visit is extremely important as a possibility to become more familiar with our country and city, reveal common interests and areas, in which specialists of both countries would be able to complement each other. „I honestly believe that co-operation with Hiratsuka city would be important for education system personnel as well as for students, because it would give new knowledge and open wider possibilities to express themselves“, - stated R. Bortkevičienė. Vice mayor of Hiratsuka city Junichi Inoue agreed with this position, adding that there is a need to strengthen knowledge of English language among Hiratsuka teachers and students. On the other hand, as the East Asian studies are coming to the peak of its popularity in Lithuania, it requires for a better spread of Japanese language and culture. During the meeting the main guidelines for the future co-operation were discussed. In the near future, they will be clarified and discussed more in detail remotely.

It was the first visit of Hiratsuka city delegation in Kaunas. While trying to perceive Lithuanian culture, guests visited Pažaislis cameldulese monastery and the church, Sugihara house museum and National Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis art museum.

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