Remarks by Ambassador John V. Roos: The Friendship Blossoms - Dogwood Tree Planting Initiative

Yokohama, March 29, 2013

Mayor Hayashi, Chairman Sato, Chairman Nishida, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Ohayo gozaimasu. It truly is an honor to be here today.

We all know of the deep and lasting bond between the United States and Japan, but many fewer people know of the deep relationship between Yokohama, in particular, and the people of the United States.

Over 100 years ago, Yokohama was the place from which the cherry trees were sent - those "sakura" trees that were sent from Japan to Washington, D.C. And for generations, citizens from all across my country have enjoyed their spectacular beauty and the symbol of the bond between our two countries.

I remember when I was a child that my parents took me on my first trip to Washington, D.C. We tried to arrange the trip around the time that the beautiful cherry trees would be blossoming. Little did I know at the time that I would one day have the privilege and the honor of a lifetime to serve as the United States Ambassador to Japan and, just this morning, to see the beauty of the "sakura," the cherry trees, as I drove to Yokohama.

Today, we celebrate not only the spectacular gift that you gave to the people of the United States, but we celebrate in a small way, our donation to the people of Japan - and here in Yokohama where 100 trees are being planted today - the Friendship Blossoms.

It is my sincere hope that four or five years from now, when these dogwood trees - these Friendship Blossoms - begin to blossom, that you are able to enjoy their beauty as much as we have enjoyed the beauty of the cherry trees in the United States.

But even more importantly, what I sincerely hope is that, for generations to come, these Friendship Blossoms will become another symbol of the deep bonds and connections between our two peoples.

Thank you, Mayor Hayashi and all of your team, for making today happen. I know the tremendous amount of work that it took to reach this day, and we are very much appreciative. I also want to thank all of the sponsors who are listed behind me, and I understand that representatives from Coca-Cola and Chevron are here today. If I've missed any other sponsors who are here today, thank you so much because today would not have been possible without you.

Arigato gozaimasu.

Brief Media Availability with Ambassador Roos following the Dogwood Initiative Tree Planting Ceremony in Yokohama

QUESTION: Would you tell us, what is the significance of the event today?

AMBASSADOR ROOS: This is a wonderful symbol of the deep bonds between the United States and Japan. We in the United States for generations have enjoyed "sakura," - the cherry blossoms - and this is a small way for us to thank the people of Japan.

As you know, in addition to these beautiful Friendship Blossoms, we've launched the TOMODACHI Initiative to connect the young people of Japan with the young people of the United States. I hope that all of these kids here today will take advantage of the TOMODACHI Initiative, come to visit my country, and meet our children, because, ultimately, the strength and the bonds between our two countries are dependent upon these young people getting to know each other in each of our countries. Thank you so much.