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Japanese ambassador visits Kentucky

The Ambassador of Japan to the United States is in central Kentucky.

Ichiro Fugisaki held a news conference in Frankfort to present a gift of cherry blossom trees to celebrate the continued friendship between Japan and Kentucky.

The gift of 20 trees also commemorates the centennial of Tokyo, Japan’s gift in 1912 of 3,000 trees to Washington, D.C. These are the trees known for their showy pink blossoms that decorate Washington’s Tidal Basin in spring, and that have become a treasured national landmark.

Governor Steve Beshear and former governor Martha Layne Collins were on hand for the announcement.

“Our Japanese businesses at work in Kentucky have done more than just provide jobs and services in our state. They also become part of the fabric of our communities,” said Gov. Collins. “These businesses contribute to our hometowns through volunteerism and community support, and we all benefit from those efforts.”

Blossoming cherry trees at the Kentucky Capitol were planted during the time surrounding Toyota’s arrival, and are symbolic of the friendship that has grown from an economic partnership.

Today, there are 155 Kentucky companies with Japanese ownership, which employ more than 34,000 people. Kentucky exported nearly $1.2 billion in goods to Japan in 2010.

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