Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been invited to travel to Stonehaven in the month of his COP26 climate change mission – to plant a tree.
An impressive array of 120 cherry blossoms will be planted in the Aberdeenshire town’s Mineralwell Park later this year.
The ceremony has been postponed from March to November due to the pandemic, now coming in the same month as the two-week climate change conference in Glasgow
The display will become a colourful living memorial to Fraserburgh-born merchant Thomas Blake Glover, who founded what is now Mitsubishi, as well as celebrating 150 years of UK and Japanese friendship.
Stonehaven visit would be ‘cherry on cake’ for Boris
Stonehaven was selected as a UK site for the display after an approach from West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Andrew Bowie to the Japanese embassy.
And today the Conservative MP invited Boris Johnson to the north-east to plant a tree in Stonehaven himself to celebrate the “deep and growing” links between Scotland and Japan.
Mr Johnson said: “I think that such a gesture would be the cherry on the cake of the free trade deal that we’ve already done.”
Mr Bowie said: “I was delighted to secure a major role for Stonehaven in the Sakura Cherry Tree Project at a time when the UK is once again expanding its role as a friend and trading partner to nations across the world.
“Thomas Blake Glover is venerated in Japan as the founder of industrialisation and modernisation from its feudal era.
“This project will provide a living testament to his ingenuity and also to the spirit of cooperation he represents.
“I have asked the Prime Minister to demonstrate the flourishing friendship and partnership between our two nations, and the north east of Scotland in particular.”
Who is Thomas Blake Glover?
Thomas Blake Glover was born in Fraserburgh in 1838 but also lived in Collieston, near Ellon, and Bridge of Don.
Upon leaving school he became a shipping clerk and first arrived in Japan when he was 21, initially buying green tea.
Within two years he founded his own firm and built his home, which remains one of the oldest western-style buildings in Japan to this day.
The Scot became one of the leading figures in the industrialisation and formed the shipbuilding company which would later become Mitsubishi and brewery which is now called Kirin.
His achievements inspired the Scottish Samurai Awards which have now been running for 25 years.