Biden Likens Sakura Trees to Japan-U.S. Friendship; Japan to Donate 250 Trees to Mark 250th Anniversary of Founding of U.S.

Takayuki Fuchigami / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, presents someiyoshino cherry blossom saplings in Washington on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON ― U.S. President Joe Biden likened cherry blossoms, which are loved by both Japanese and Americans, to a symbol of friendship between the two countries during a ceremony at the White House to welcome Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday.

Kishida said Japan will donate 250 cherry trees to the United States to mark the 250th anniversary of the country’s founding, which the United States will commemorate in 2026.

“Like our friendship, these trees are timeless, inspiring, and thriving,” Biden said when addressing the crowd at the ceremony held on the South Lawn of the White House.

Kishida said, “I am confident that the cherry-blossom-like bond of the Japan-U.S. alliance will continue to grow even thicker and stronger here, in the Indo-Pacific, and in all corners of the world.”

The cherry trees along the Potomac River near the White House were originally presented by then Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki at the request of then U.S. President William Taft’s wife in 1912. Currently, about 3,800 cherry trees grow along the river, attracting people every spring.

However, due to the aging embankment along the promenade as well as rising water levels, some trees are submerged in the water at high tide. In March, the U.S. National Park Service announced it will cut down nearly 160 cherry blossom trees as part a seawall construction project.

Japan decided to donate the 250 cherry trees this in mind. During his visit, Kishida delivered the first four someiyoshino cherry blossom saplings, which were flown in on the government plane.

At the presentation ceremony on Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the cherry trees in Washington were one of the greatest gifts, along with the Statue of Liberty from France, that the United States has ever received.