Launceston's oldest sister city relationship started with ink

Launceton’s first sister city relationship started with ink and a 16-year-old Japanese high school student.

It was 1962, and Launceston woman Wendy Batten began to write to a student in Ikeda City, Japan, as part of an English conversation radio program.

A flurry of letters were sent back and forth between Jyun-ichi Yoshizumi and Miss Batten each week.

City of Launceston General Manager Robert Dobrzynski said the information they shared illustrated many similarities between Ikeda and Launceston in the first two years of their pen friendship.

“The friends thought it would be good if their two cities could become more closely linked,” Mr Dobrzynski said.

"In terms of Launceston's oldest sister city relationship, the venture was sparked by two pen pals.”

Taken with the idea, Miss Batten approached Launceston’s Mayor, Alderman R.J.D. Turnbull through her father, while Mr Yoshizumi spoke to Ikeda’s Mayor Gizo Takeda with the same proposition, he said.

Within three years of starting writing, in 1965, a petition signed by thousands of Ikeda City citizens was handed to Mayor Takeda, who formally approached the Launceston City Council asking that a sister-city relationship be formed to promote international goodwill, he said.

And on 2 August 1965 the Launceston City Council agreed.