National

Taiwan NGO donates trees to Japan to celebrate new emperor

Kyodo

A donation ceremony was held Tuesday for tree seedlings that a Taiwan nongovernmental organization is sending to Japan as gifts to celebrate the enthronement last year of Emperor Naruhito.

Among them are trees planted by Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously called Emperor Showa, when he traveled to Taiwan as crown prince in 1923, as well as an indigenous species of cherry tree.

“If everything goes as planned, relations between Taiwan and Japan will no doubt advance to a higher level,” Miki Chang, founder of the association established in September last year to advance exchanges of cherry tree planting, said at the ceremony in Taipei.

Hideaki Kase, head of an organization promoting cherry tree planting in Japan, pledged at the event to exercise great care “so people from Japan, Taiwan and all over the world could come and appreciate them.”

Chang said that when the then-crown prince traveled to Taiwan in 1923 to inspect the then-Japanese colony, he planted cherry trees on Mount Yangming in Taipei, banyan trees in the southern port city of Kaohsiung and bamboo trees in Pingtung, also in the south.

To celebrate the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito held in October last year, Chang said the association decided to donate banyan trees and bamboo that Hirohito planted to organizations in Japan as gifts.

Among the places that will receive the banyan trees is a park on Okinawa Prefecture’s Ishigaki Island, where Chang said the environment is better suited to the trees.

His organization plans to ship out the seedlings at the end of this month. However, the cherry trees will need to undergo a one-year quarantine before entering Japan.

Chang said the cherry trees are not those planted by Hirohito, but rather a species native to Taiwan that was first discovered at Yangming National Park in 1897.

The indigenous species, called Taiwan cherry, is the first wave of cherry trees to flower during the annual Yangming Mountain Flower Festival that begins in January and ends in March.

Chang said his association contacted more than a dozen places in Japan regarding the donation of the cherry trees, one of them being the Imperial Palace.

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