Although many people in Japan would appreciate the sense of continuity a re-election of President Bush would bring, most Japanese feel they could live with whoever is elected president here.
So say two city officials from Lawrence's sister city of Hiratsuka, Japan. The officials shared their views during a dinner Thursday night held for them and five other Hiratsuka visitors. About 25 local residents attended the dinner at the Eldridge Hotel.
"Although some Japanese would feel more at ease with the continuity of the Bush administration, opinions vary," said Takashi Kamiya, chairman of Hiratsuka's municipal assembly. "Whoever is elected, we would like to continue our good relationship with the United States."
Tatsuo Waki, a Hiratsuka city commissioner, shared a similar view.
"We want to keep a good relationship between the United States and Japan," Waki said. "If Bush were to be elected, we know that a good relationship would continue. But whoever is elected, we want to keep a good relationship."
KAMIYA SAID he was surprised that Texas billionaire Ross Perot would make such a late entrance into the presidential race.
"I guess Ross Perot thinks he can't be elected but he can change the balance between Clinton and Bush," Kamiya said.
Waki said that with the Japanese economy in a recession, many Japanese are interested in economic issues. Although he didn't say which candidate's economic plan is better, he said he does feel that Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton's plan is "clearer."
Kamiya visited Lawrence two years ago, as did Yoshinobu Ochiai, another member of this week's delegation. But this week provided the first taste of Lawrence for the other five members of the delegation.
The group's activities Thursday included a visit with Lawrence Mayor Bob Schulte and a tour of the Kansas University campus.
"KU has a beautiful and huge campus," Waki said. "Japanese universities are compact and have only a few departments on one campus, but KU has a lot of departments on a huge campus. It seems to be easier for Americans to study different fields in one place."
THE OTHER members of the Hiratsuka delegation, which left Lawrence this morning, were Teruhiko Goto and Yukio Yamaguchi, Hiratsuka city commissioners, Minoru Taguchi, secretariat of the Hiratsuka municipal assembly, and Hiroaki Yamashita, tour conductor.
Ted Kuwana, president of Lawrence's Friends of Hiratsuka group, said Hiratsuka has 36 city commissioners.
"They plan to have every city commissioner visit Lawrence to learn more about the city and to strengthen our friendship," Kuwana said. "They have a very strong commitment to the sister city relationship."
Kuwana estimated that about 20 Hiratsuka city commissioners have visited Lawrence since the sister city relationship began in 1990.
This week's delegation will visit the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles before returning to Japan.