Mayor Jeanne Marie Napolitano and the Newport City Council invite members of the public to a remembrance ceremony for Kiyoshi Iketani, former mayor of Newport’s sister city of Shimoda, Japan on Thursday, June 17th at 10 am, the City of Newport announced today. 

The ceremony will be held in the section of Vernon Park known as Cherry Tree Park. 

Mr. Kiyoshi Iketani, who was mayor of Shimoda for 16 years and was very active with the sister city program, passed away on Friday, June 4th at the age of 89.  Mr. Iketani was elected to Shimoda’s City Council in 1971 and served for four terms.  He went on to become mayor from 1984 to 1998. 

 Mr. Iketani visited Newport consistently from 1986 and created the student exchange program between the two cities which continued through 2018.  Hundreds of students have participated in the exchange over the past few decades.

On his 1988 visit to Newport, Mayor Iketani and Newport Mayor Robert J. McKenna planted a cherry tree in front of Newport City Hall.  It continues to bloom to the delight of Newport citizens each spring.  On July 23, 1995 Vernon Park was rededicated as Cherry Tree Park by mutual agreement by then mayors Kiyoshi Iketani and David F. Roderick, Jr.  to mark the collection of cherry trees in the park which were donated by Mayor Iketani and others from Shimoda City.

Mr. Iketani was a member of the Newport Shimoda Club and participated in ceremonies welcoming citizens of Newport attending the Black Ships Festival in Shimoda each May.  He also welcomed many delegations from Newport to his catering office in Shimoda, Japan where he entertained them with traditional Japanese-style boxed lunches.

Mr. Iketani is survived by his daughter, Izumi Iketani.  Shimoda, Japan and Newport have been sister cities since 1958.  The sister city program provides opportunities for citizens to learn about, experience and explore other cultures through long-term community partnerships.

Mayor Napolitano and other dignitaries will speak at the ceremony.  Those wishing to attend may park on Caswell Avenue or Freeborn Street.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.