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April 17, 2001
Media Advisory: Blossoms mark friendship between Japan and Toronto
Economic Development, Culture and Tourism -- Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman and
Consul General Hara Satoshi of Japan in Toronto will join hands to plant the
first of thousands of Sakura (Japanese Flowering Cherry) trees to be donated to
various locations around Ontario over the next decade. The Sakura Planting
Ceremony, taking place in High Park on April 18, marks a milestone for the
year-old Sakura Project, by which enthusiastic Canadians and Japanese worked
together to raise funds -- now over $36,000 -- for the purchase and propagation
of Sakura trees.

"We wish the donated Sakura to symbolize the friendship and goodwill between
Canada and Japan," says Mr. Hara, who is also the chair of the Sakura
Committee. "Since the start of our fundraising campaign in March of 2000, we
have had an unexpectedly enthusiastic response locally from Canadians and
Japanese. The donors through their individual contributions will preserve their
attachment and affection for Sakura for a long time to come. We continue to
welcome contributions to this decade-long project."

As importing Sakura saplings is prohibited by Quarantine Canada, the Sakura
Committee, made up of prominent local Canadians and Japanese, had to find means
of obtaining trees locally. Consul General Hara discovered that a number of
different species of Sakura have been blooming in various places in southern
Ontario, including Niagara, Vineland, Burlington and Toronto. With the
assistance of the Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario at the University
of Guelph, these Sakura trees are, and will continue to be, propagated by means
of budding at minimal cost.

At the same time, the committee successfully arranged for special research
permits from Agriculture Canada for importing Sakura seeds from Japan. Each
seed will be planted and tested at the state nursery in British Columbia and
upon approval will be released to the committee, which will keep these small
trees from both budding and seeds for several years at nurseries of the Niagara
Parks Commission and the University of Guelph until they grow big enough for
public planting. In this way, the committee plans to donate approximately 3,000
trees to a variety of locations in Ontario from 2005 to 2010. "We hope to make
Ontario as famous as the Potomac River of Washington D.C. for its magnificent
Sakura trees," says Mr. Hara.

This spring's planting will bring 34 trees to High Park and an additional 30 to
the Niagara Parks Commission. Members of the media are welcome to attend the
ceremony in High Park (at Hillside Gardens on the east side of Grenadier Pond),
to commence at 1:45 p.m. on April 18. There will also be a second planting
ceremony at the Niagara Parks Commission on April 26, Upper Rapids Drive,
Niagara Falls, starting at 11:15 a.m.

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