Japan Gives Washington 250 Cherry Trees as Replacements


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Japan is giving the United States 250 cherry trees to replace more than 100 that will be torn up during construction around the Tidal Basin in Washington, the Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said on Wednesday.

The gift honors the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which the United States will celebrate in 2026, Mr. Kishida said at a White House ceremony welcoming him for a state visit.

President Biden thanked Mr. Kishida for the cherry trees, which have become a symbol of the relationship between the United States and its longtime ally as well as a popular tourist attraction in spring. The mayor of Tokyo gave Washington 3,000 of the trees, which are not native to the United States, in 1912.

The newly announced gift of 250 cherry blossom trees will replace 140 trees being removed from the Tidal Basin for construction of taller sea walls.Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“Like our friendship, these trees are timeless, inspiring and thriving,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Biden said that after Mr. Kishida landed in the United States on Tuesday, both leaders and the first lady, Jill Biden, walked through the White House grounds to admire several cherry trees, including a pair that were part of the new gift and one that Dr. Biden and Yuko Kishida, Mr. Kishida’s wife, had planted together last year as a token of the friendship between nations. The president said other trees would be planted near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

“These Japanese-born cherry trees have been sounding the arrival of spring to the city every year for over 110 years,” Mr. Kishida said.

He noted that the Somei Yoshino variety had a life span of roughly 60 years in Washington, but that the original trees had thrived for more than 100 years under the city’s care.

“Just as the local residents have cherished and protected these cherry trees, the Japan-U.S. relationship has been supported and nurtured by the many people who love each other’s country,” Mr. Kishida said.

The 140 trees that Washington is set to lose this year will be removed to accommodate new, taller sea walls around the Tidal Basin to protect the Jefferson Memorial. The current sea walls were constructed in the 1800s and have sunk too low to be effective against tidal waves and storm surges.

Mr. Kishida is in Washington for a three-day state visit that will include a state dinner on Wednesday night and a meeting with Mr. Biden and the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., on Thursday. His visit comes at the height of spring in Washington and amid the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which has been held since 1935 to commemorate the original gift.

“Let me end with this,” said Mr. Biden, who was wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses in the bright sun. “It’s spring in Washington. The sun is shining. And every spring, cherry blossoms bloom across this city thanks to a gift from Japan of 3,000 cherry trees over a century ago.”

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