Sun, Apr 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Japan’s Mori plants 200 trees as tsunami memento

Staff Writer, with CNA

Former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, left, and Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai plant a tree at the Hatta Yoichi Memorial at Wushantou Reservoir in Greater Tainan yesterday.

Photo: Yang Chin-Chehg, Taipei Times

Hundreds of people joined former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori in planting cherry trees in Greater Tainan yesterday in a gesture to thank Taiwan for its assistance following a massive earthquake and tsunami that battered Japan last year.

Mori, leading a group of 170 Japanese nationals, joined local officials in planting the first batch of 200 cherry trees at the Yoichi Hatta Memorial Park at an event dubbed kizuna, a Japanese word meaning “bond,” to mark the close ties between Japan and Taiwan.

The park is named after a Japanese engineer who built a canal that helped irrigate southern Taiwan in the early 1900s.

Mori and Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) plowed the soil before planting young trees that were grown by grafting a tree species native to Japan onto one indigenous to Taiwan, which the event initiator said symbolized the inseparable bond between the two countries.

Mori said he had planned a trip to Taiwan in May to mark the anniversary of Hatta’s death but decided to squeeze in another visit after hearing about the tree-planting event, so he could personally express Japan’s gratitude to Taiwan for its ¥20 billion (US$247 million) in post-disaster donations.

“Taiwan and Japan have been close friends, and hopefully we can be even closer through this event,” said Mori, who also unveiled a monument nearby and wrote kizuna and the Japanese word for “cherry blossom” on it.

The views were echoed by Lai, who said the planting of Japan’s national flower — the cherry blossom — had strengthened the friendship between Taiwan and Japan. Yang Ming-feng (楊明風), chief of a local agriculture and water development agency, said the agency would work to turn the tree-planting site into one of Taiwan’s largest cherry blossom parks.

The event organizer, a Japanese sports association, had said previously that it planned to plant a total of 5,000 cherry trees in several stages.

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