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A Japanese group will donate 2,500 flowering cherry tree seedlings to China for plantation in a Beijing park as part of moves to promote bilateral friendship, group members said Monday.

The Japan Cherry Blossom Association said it will establish with the Beijing Afforestation Foundation a cherry tree garden in Zhaoyang (Sun) Park in the Chinese capital to mark the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties.

Dan Zhaoxiang, a representative of the Chinese group, visited House of Representatives Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, head of the Japanese association, on Monday to express his gratitude for the group’s cooperation in the project.

The association said it will donate seedlings of 54 different flowering cherry blossom varieties for the garden. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held April 14, the group members said.

The late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka established diplomatic relations with China in 1972 and sent 1,000 cherry tree seedlings to the Chinese government to celebrate the milestone.

This, however, is the first time that a private Chinese group is receiving cherry seedlings from abroad, according to the members.

The daughter of the late prime minister, former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, visited China last week.

The association said it plans to continue exchanges with the Chinese group and aims to send 10,000 cherry tree seedlings to China before the Olympics are held there in 2008.

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