National

Japan to donate 6,500 cherry trees to Britain

JIJI

Japan will donate about 6,500 cherry trees to Britain as a symbol of their bilateral friendship, with a ceremony planned to plant some in Regent’s Park in central London on Wednesday.

The event was attended by various dignitaries and others including Prince Richard, Japanese Ambassador to Britain Yasumasa Nagamine, British lawmakers and government officials, as well as representatives of companies and individuals who provided funds for the cherry tree donation project.

The project was led by a Japanese private-sector team and supported by the Japanese and British governments.

“What better way to commemorate the long-standing friendship between the people of the United Kingdom and Japan, than the planting of Japanese cherry trees that will live on for future generations to enjoy,” Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, said.

“The response we have had from all across the U.K. … has been amazing,” Keisaku Sano, joint chief of the project team and head of the Japan Association in the UK, said. “It is testament to the strong relationship between the two countries, and we hope the trees will be a lasting tribute to that.”

Hopes are growing that the “cherry tree diplomacy” will further deepen the bilateral relationship, observers said.

In a similar gesture to the United States, thousands of Japanese cherry trees were sent to Washington and planted along the Potomac River about a century ago.

An official of the Japanese embassy in London, which took charge of sending invitations to potential guests to Wednesday’s cherry tree-planting ceremony and confirming whether they would attend or not, said that the guest candidates were chosen by the project team.

“We’re indirectly supporting the project in light of the importance of the event,” the official said.