Gift to Kentucky Celebrates Centennial of Japan Gift of Trees to Washington, D.C.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 10, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear and Ambassador of Japan to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki Friday announced a gift of cherry blossom trees to celebrate the continued friendship between Japan and Kentucky.
The gift of 20 trees also commemorates the centennial of Tokyo, Japan’s gift in 1912 of 3,000 trees to Washington, D.C. These are the trees known for their showy pink blossoms that decorate Washington’s Tidal Basin in spring, and that have become a treasured national landmark.
“I am honored to accept this generous gift from the Ambassador on behalf of the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said. “The blossoms that emerge each spring will be a reminder of the enduring special friendship between Kentucky and Japan.”
The Embassy of Japan and the Consul General of Japan in Nashville, Tenn., awarded the Japan/America Society of Kentucky the 20 trees – cultivated from the Washington gift trees – to be donated to the Commonwealth of Kentucky as part of the centennial celebration.
One of Kentucky’s oldest and most successful partnerships is with the nation of Japan and Japanese businesses. That partnership blossomed more than a quarter-century ago when Toyota built its first plant in Georgetown, thanks to the efforts of then-Gov. Martha Layne Collins. Beshear served as lieutenant governor at that time.
“Our Japanese businesses at work in Kentucky have done more than just provide jobs and services in our state. They also become part of the fabric of our communities,” said Collins. “These businesses contribute to our hometowns through volunteerism and community support, and we all benefit from those efforts.”
Blossoming cherry trees at the Kentucky Capitol were planted during the time surrounding Toyota’s arrival, and are symbolic of the friendship that has grown from an economic partnership. Today, there are 155 Kentucky companies with Japanese ownership, which employ more than 34,000 people. Kentucky exported nearly $1.2 billion in goods to Japan in 2010.
The new trees are expected to arrive in March or April, and Toyota has agreed to house them in Georgetown until the appropriate time for planting.
As part of the celebration of the gift of cherry blossoms, the Japan/America Society of Kentucky announced plans for a Cherry Blossom Festival in downtown Lexington in May 2012. Planners envision an exciting and creative cultural festival that will set the stage for the next 100 years of friendship between Kentucky and Japan.