Good morning, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, Chariman Lou Smith, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I’m happy to be here to join this dedication of cherry trees, which commemorates not only the National Cherry Blossom Centennial, but the lasting friendship between Japan and, specifically, San Diego. I’m especially pleased that the weather has turned out so nice.
A couple weeks ago at the Japanese Friendship Garden, the heavy rain kept some people from attending the cherry blossom festival. So I’m going to recycle of my speaking points. I hope that those of you who were there don’t mind.
Just before the current cherry blossom season, Japan and all its overseas missions were very busy with memorial events for the Great East Japan Earthquake. Not only was my schedule full, but also my heart and mind, as I remembered everything that happened just one year ago.
Since I arrived in L.A. last October, I’ve learned that Southern California and Japan have a very deep and special bond. Here in San Diego, we’re connected through business, academics, sister cities, and the friendship between the Japan SDF and U.S. Navy. Mostly, we are united by community. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your tireless and selfless assistance to Japan this past year and more. Thanks to your material support as well as your outpouring of encouragement, Japan is back on its feet and getting stronger, day by day. I invite you to come to Japan. Witness our revival and rebirth. Experience our hospitality. Enjoy our delicious food, traditional culture, and beautiful sights.
Of course, one of the most beautiful times to go to Japan is at this time of year, when the cherry trees, or sakura, are in bloom. It’s an amazing sight. Japanese people love to picnic under the blooming branches. We have a special affinity for the delicate sakura blossoms.
Moreover, they have also come to symbolize the Japan – U.S. friendship. Each year, thousands of people come to Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossoms. This year, we commemorate the original planting 100 years ago with new plantings across the U.S. San Diego was chosen in the National Cherry Blossom Tree Planting Initiative because of its special ties to Japan. As we water and nurture these trees, we are reminded to do the same with the Japan – U.S. relationship. When they bloom – more and more each year – we can celebrate our growth and success.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Unified Port of San Diego, the U.S.S. Midway Museum, and all organizations involved, for their efforts to coordinate this planting and this afternoon’s Sakura Festival. I’d also like to thank the Huntington Library for partnering with the National Cherry Blossom tree planting by providing some of the cherry trees. I hope that the pink cloud trees planted here around Tuna Park and the Friendship Bell will grow deep roots and produce many beautiful flowers for the people of San Diego to enjoy. Thank you.