Growing Friendship

Alex Hara is a Japanese-born businessman living in Dayton, Ohio. When a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami shook his homeland in 2011, he watched the devastation on television helplessly from thousands of miles away. Though saddened by the events, he was inspired by the rapid response of the American military and the willingness of the American people to donate their money, products, and time to people half a world away.

This was the birth of Operation 1000 Cherry Trees.

A Message from
Consul General Kuninori Matsuda

Consulate General of Japan in Detroit

The year of 2012 marks the 100-year anniversary of the City of Tokyo’s gift of three thousand cherry blossom trees to Washington, D.C.

In 1912, the flowering cherry trees were delivered to the United States from Japan as a result of the efforts of many individuals wishing to enhance the development of friendly relations between the U.S. and Japan. Among these include First Lady Helen Taft, who desired to beautify the environment along the Potomac River; Eliza Scidmore, a travel writer and ardent admirer of Japan who proposed the idea to the First Lady; the internationally-minded Mayor of the City of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki; and Professor Jokichi Takamine, a leader of the Japanese community in New York, who took initiative of the project.

Much like that tree planting along the Potomac, the Operation 1000 Cherry Trees project represents the anticipation and hope that the friendship between Ohio’s Dayton area and Japan will continue to flourish.  This project also is an expression of sincere gratitude for the tremendous support and encouragement Japan received following last year’s unprecedented disaster, the Great East Japan Earthquake, of March 11, 2011.

Montgomery County is one of the many areas which cultivate and benefit from close economic relations between the U.S. and Japan. Within the county there are thirteen Japanese facilities which employ approximately 1,900 local workers. In addition, the thriving aerospace-related businesses here are indicative of stronger economic relations yet to come between Japan and the United States. Three Dayton area universities, led by Wright State, offer Japanese language and studies courses which can assist future generations in building on the U.S. – Japan relationship. And, in addition, as a result of a successful Dayton business venture in Oiso City, Kanagawa Prefecture a sister-city relationship was established in 1968. This Dayton-Oiso alliance is the longest standing Japanese sister city relationship in Ohio, enjoying both local government and grassroots level affiliations.

I believe, in addition to the firm economic relationships, Japanese language education, and grassroots exchanges upon which the U.S.-Japan relations were built, Operation 1000 Cherry Trees will become yet another solid link connecting our two nations.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and respect to Honorary Chairperson Robert Taft, Chairman Alex Hara, and other committee members for initiating this plan. I wish the project great success!