Japan Bestows 250 Cherry Trees on US as Gesture of Friendship

Apr 16, 2024

Less than 100 years ago, Japan and the US were mortal enemies. Back then, they battled on opposite sides of World War II. But no two nations could be much closer today than these allies. Their tight relationship was on full display late last week when Japan announced that it would gift 250 new cherry trees to Washington DC.    

Japan's Prime Minister (PM) Fumio Kishida last week visited the White House. He had talks and a formal state dinner with President Biden. He said the new cherry trees were meant to mark the upcoming 250th anniversary, in 2026, of America’s founding. The trees will be planted at the Tidal Basin. It's near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.     

These aren’t the first cherry trees Japan has gifted the US. The Asian nation gifted 3,000 trees over 100 years ago. Their bright blooms herald the dawn of spring in the US capital city each year.  

But the National Park Service said last month that it would remove 300 trees. Among them are 158 cherry trees. This is part of a plan to repair crumbling sea walls. It's one of many repair projects in DC ahead of 250th anniversary celebrations.       

The White House said that when Japan's PM learned 158 trees will be removed, he offered new trees as a show of the allies' friendship.   

The US shaped the global order in the postwar world through economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power, Kishida told Congress while in Washington last week. He said the US cheered freedom and democracy. He also said it encouraged the stability and prosperity of nations like Japan. Further, he said it "made noble sacrifices to fulfill its commitment to a better world.”    

Reflect: Imagine you were chosen to design a park or garden to honor your country’s relationship with another. Which country would you choose, and what plants or features would you add?

GIF of Washington DC cherry tree and monuments courtesy @storyful on GIPHY.

According to the article, what happens when Japan donates cherry trees to Washington DC? (Common Core RI.5.1; RI.6.1)
a. It strengthens the diplomatic bonds between Japan and the US.
b. It leads to economic sanctions between the two nations.
c. It causes an increase in tourism to Washington DC.
d. It triggers a competitive response from other countries.
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