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Great Britain

Blackpool's memorial arboretum is to get cherry trees from Japan to commemorate forces personnel

The Changi Gate replica at the arboretum
The Changi Gate replica at the arboretum

The Fylde coast’s wartime memorial arboretum is to get a delivery of cherry trees from Japan as a gesture of friendship.

The gift has been announced just after the Fylde Coast Memorial Arboretum played host to the commemoration of VJ Day, which marks the victory over the Japanese Imperial forces in the Pacific in the Second World War.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard put forward proposals to the Japan Society’s Sakura Cherry Tree Project for the saplings, and said he was now is looking forward to seeing the trees planted at the Bispham site.

The Japanese traditionally look forward to the springtime cherry blossom season, Sakura, and the gift is seen as a significant gesture to celebrate the friendship between Japan and the

UK over years to come.

Mr Maynard said: “The arboretum remembers, among others, those who were lost in conflict between our nations.

“It is wonderful to hear the site will be enhanced as a result of the modern day friendship between our two nations.

“The cherry tree and its blossom are symbols of Japan and I am sure this will make the arboretum and even more pleasant place to visit and to remember all those who have lost their lives serving our country.”

It is hoped the saplings will arrive at the Moor Park Avenue site next year.

On September 1, 2017, former Prime Minister Theresa May and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in Tokyo that the years 2019 and 2020 would mark the Japan-UK Season of Culture.

This season, there will be activity in both Japan and the UK which will celebrate the friendship of the two countries.

It will also provide an opportunity for people of both nations to explore each other’s cultures and technologies between the Rugby World Cup 2019 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and

Paralympic Games.

Liz Clayton, who volunteers at the arboretum and for the Burma Star organisation which supported British service personnel that served in the Far East, said: “We are delighted and looking forward to getting the 16 flowering Cherry Trees some time next year.”

The Arboretum has a replica of the Changi Gate, the entrance to the prison camp which found notoriety after the capture of Singapore in 1942 where British and other prisoners were held in terrible conditions by Japanese guards.

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