Cherry on top of Japan, SA relations

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pretoria - The planting of cherry blossom trees will be the order of the day when the Department of International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Marius Fransman and Japanese Ambassador to South Africa, Toshiro Ozawa, get together later today to celebrate a hundred years of relations between the two countries.

The cherry blossom tree planting project forms part of the Centennial Year of relations between South Africa and Japan, which was celebrated in 2010. Various projects and events were arranged in celebration thereof.

Her Imperial Princess Takamado planted two cherry blossom saplings together with Amos Masondo, the former Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, at the city's Botanical Gardens last year.

In July, trees were also planted in the gardens of the Rescue SA Office in Kempton Park, as a symbolic gesture of appreciation for their rescue efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.

Later today, the planting of 20 saplings in the gardens of the OR Tambo Building and the Johnny Makhathini Guesthouse (formerly known as the Diplomatic Guesthouse) will therefore symbolise a continued commitment to bilateral relations.

Japan is South Africa's third largest trading partner and Japanese companies, for example Toyota and Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT), among others, have invested R28 billion in SA in 2010 alone.

The two countries co-operate in various fields, including training and skills development. Currently, there are 103 Japanese companies in South Africa, employing approximately 200 000 South Africans.

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