On August 2, 2016 at Santa Monica City Hall, Santa Monica and Kizugawa officially became friendship cities. Consul General Akira Chiba participated in the signing ceremony, which included Mayor Tony Vasquez of Santa Monica and Mayor Noriko Kawai of Kizugawa. Former Mayor and current Councilmember Kevin McKeown, along with former Mayors Nat Trives and Pam O’Connor were also in attendance.
Witnessing the ceremony were visiting middle school students from Kizugawa and their Santa Monica counterparts, Santa Monica Sister Cities Association President Jeff Jarow, and supporters. Recognitions were presented from the Japan-America Society of Southern California, and the offices of California State Senator Ben Allen and Assemblyman Richard Bloom.
The friendship city designation arose out of the student exchange program that began in 1999. Remarks by the dignitaries focused on hopes for the future development of the friendship city relationship and noted Santa Monica’s existing sister city relationship with Fujinomiya, formed in 1975.