Omi-Hachiman to remain “Omi-Hachiman” after merging with Azuchi

As reported earlier, Omi-Hachiman and neighboring Azuchi are planning to merge in March 2010. On May 22, 2009, the deliberation committee for the merger between the two municipalities held a vote to decide the new name of the city after merging. Two proposed names were up for voting: Omi-Hachiman (近江八幡) and Omi-Hachiman-Azuchi (近江八幡安土).

It was a close vote, but Omi-Hachiman won the most votes. I’m surprised that “Azuchi” was not one of the options. The Azuchi name is far more famous than Omi-Hachiman. Japan’s Azuchi-Momoyama Period is named after Azuchi Castle built by Oda Nobunaga.

It is likely that “Azuchi-cho” will be retained as a place name in addresses after the merger. The current Omi-Hachiman City Hall will serve as the new city’s city hall, while the Azuchi Town Hall will be a branch office.

However, there might be a stumbling block to this merger by a citizen’s group in Azuchi petitioning for the recall of its mayor who is railroading this merger through.

Interesting that neighboring Ryuo-cho is out of the merger picture. Ryuo has the Daihatsu auto factories, but residents still depend on Omi-Hachiman for daily living.

Sister-city exchange students cancel/postpone trips

Due to the spread of swine flu, the Shiga Prefectural Board of Education has decided to cancel all high school student exchange trips to sister cities in Michigan, USA. Some 20 students from Michigan were scheduled to visit Shiga next month for home-stay visits, and 20 students from Shiga were to visit Michigan in Sept. 2009.

Earlier, eight junior high school students from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA postponed their trip to Omi-Hachiman scheduled for May 8-16, 2009. Due to fears of swine flu, the Grand Rapids people decided to postpone the homestay trip. As part of their sister-city relationship, Grand Rapids and Omi-Hachiman have been sending students to each other for homestay visits.

It is very unfortunate these trips had to be canceled. I’m sure the students are all very disappointed. Taking overseas trips during the formative years of high school brings much mutual unerstanding and experiences, besides lasting memories. Hope they will somehow eventually make the trip somehow, someday soon.

Omi-Hachiman and Azuchi aiming to merge

On March 26, 2009, Omi-Hachiman’s city council passed a bill to establish the Omi-Hachiman-Azuchi Municipal Merger Deliberation Council (近江八幡市・安土町合併協議会) on April 1 to aim for a municipal merger with neighboring Azuchi town. Azuchi also passed the same bill in their town council on March 25, 2009.

They both aim to merge by March 2010. However, a citizens group in Azuchi gathered 4,000 signatures and submitted a petition to the Azuchi Town Council to require a referendum to be held to vote on the issue. Unfortunately, the bill to hold a referendum was rejected by the town council who took a vote on the issue on April 14, 2009. The town council apparently wants the merger to go through despite the residents’ opposition.

Such a merger was attempted four years ago, but a referendum in Azuchi rejected it. One problem is that Omi-Hachiman is in deep debt and no one really wants to merge with that city. Interesting that neighboring Ryuo town is not even close to merging with Omi-Hachiman even though the town is part of Omi-Hachiman’s area.

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