Joetsu City is located in Niigata Prefecture, facing the Japan Sea. The city has been active in developing a range of interactions with other nations, including sister-city ties with Hunchun, China; Pohang, Korea; and Lilienfeld, Austria. The city had sent delegations of citizens to those cities to foster grassroots interaction in the areas of education, the economy, and sports. However, the city determined that it should have a comprehensive plan to further promote these exchanges in a more strategic manner. As a result, it asked JCIE to provide a basic framework that would assist the city government in formulating a new “Globalization Plan of Joetsu City in the 21st Century.” In response, JCIE formed a team of three researchers who visited the city three times to meet with the mayor and city officials, as well as with NPO leaders, businesspeople, academics, school teachers, and foreign residents.

In February 2000, the research team produced an interim report focusing on the current status of the city’s international activities and issues in three primary fields: economic development, education, and international cooperation and NPO activities. From September 24 to October 1, 2000, the research team visited Joetsu’s sister cities in China and Korea to study ways of promoting substantive exchanges in the areas of administration, education, and the economy in the years to come. The team presented their findings at a public seminar in Joetsu City and submitted their final report in March 2001.