President Qayomni at Cherry Tree Ceremony

Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony

SJSU Hosts Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony and Forum

University leaders and students participated in a cherry tree planting ceremony Sept. 21 on Tower Lawn, celebrating the centennial of Japan’s gift of cherry trees for the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. (Robert Bain photo).

By Yuji Ide, Professor and Executive Director, Kagoshima University North American Center

We are pleased to announce that Kagoshima University held “The Seventh U.S.-Japan Future Forum” on Friday, September 21, 2012, at San Jose State University, to discuss the evolving relationship between the United States and Japan and our shared goal of a prosperous future.

This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the gifting of the beautiful cherry trees brought from Japan in 1912 and planted in Washington, D.C. Continuing the legacy of friendship and alliance, San Jose State University and Kagoshima University signed an academic exchange agreement in April of this year.

To share their historical perspectives on this exciting time in U.S.-Japanese relations, we invited the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco, the president of San Jose State University, students and academia from seven universities from Japan.

Students at the forum also presented talks on topics of global concern: healthcare, environment, education, the economy, global food shortages and conflict.

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Program

11 a.m. – noon Cherry Tree Planting Ceremony
Miyuki Grace, Moderator
Hiroshi Inomata, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco
Yuji Ide, Executive Director of Kagoshima University North American Center
Mohammad Qayoumi, SJSU President

noon -1:10 p.m. Reception
Chika Hashimoto, Moderator

1:20 – 1:50 p.m. Remarks
Opening Remarks: Yuji Ide, Executive Director of KUNAC
Welcome Remarks: Mohammad Qayoumi, President of SJSU
Congratulatory Addresses: Consul General Inomata; Seichi Takeda, Director of JSPS San Francisco

1:50 – 2:10 p.m. Study Abroad Report

2:10 – 3:20 p.m. For the Future
Student presentations on the global issues by 59 Japanese students and 56 SJSU students

3:20 – 3:35 p.m. Break

3:35 – 5:20 p.m. Movie “Takamine – A Man of the Sakurai Gifted to the U.S.”

5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Panel Discussions
“SAKURA: Forever Our Friendship”
Yuji Ide, Moderator
Damian Bacich, Chair, Department of World Languages and Literatures, SJSU
Yasue Kodama, Assistant Professor, Department of World Languages and Literatures, SJSU
Maki Oshima, Director, Kagoshima University International Student Center
Shigeya Ando, Professor of Kagoshima University North American Center

Closing Remarks:
Maki Oshima, Director, Kagoshima University International Student Center

Organizer: Kagoshima University
Co-organizer: San Jose State University
Participating universities: Kagoshima Univ., Kyoto Univ., Fukuoka Institution of Technology, Niigata Univ., Tokushima Univ., Tokyo Dental College, and Tokyo Institution of Technology, and San Jose State University
Supporters: Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Japanese University Network in the Bay Area

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Background Information

The year 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees from Japan to the United States. The cherry blossom trees, including some of the original ones from 1912, bloom beautifully every spring at the Tidal Basin along the Potomac River in Washington D.C. Various events are held during that season with the cooperation of numerous individuals and organizations from both countries, and more than a million people visit Washington D.C. every year from around the United States and around the world to see and cherish the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Over the years, the cherry blossom trees have encouraged exchanges between the two nations as well as contributed to a deeper understanding of Japan.

A series of events celebrating this centennial are being organized to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges, thereby strengthening one of the main pillars of the Japan-U.S. alliance. Through these events, people from Japan and the United States will have the opportunity to reflect on the legacy of exchanges and the importance of relations between the two countries. This initiative will also lay a solid foundation for another of 100 years of Japan-U.S. friendship.

History

The gift of cherry blossom trees to the U.S. was made possible by the contribution of many people, including then U.S. First Lady Helen Taft, journalist and world traveler Eliza Scidmore, the renowned Japanese chemist Dr. Jokichi Takamine, famous for his pioneering research on Adrenaline and Takadiastase, and Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki. In 1909, Mayor Ozaki made a gift of 2,000 cherry blossom trees to Washington D.C. as a token of friendship between Japan and the United States. However, all of those trees had to be destroyed because they were found to be infested with harmful insects. In 1912, another 3,000 cherry blossom trees were presented to the United States, and the first of these were planted at the Tidal Basin by First Lady Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador Chinda, in a ceremony on March 27, 1912. Many other individuals and organizations dedicated to deepening the ties of friendship between Japan and the United States played a part in the presentation of this historic gift.