In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Consulate General of Japan, a ceremony honoring the ties binding Japan and Georgia is to be held at the Millennium Gate Museum in Atlantic Station on March 28 at 3 p.m.

The ceremony will feature the planting of 40 Somei-Yoshino cherry trees around the three-acre lake on the edge of the museum’s park at 395 17th St.. The museum is located in a 101-foot tall arch that is operated by the National Monuments Foundation, an independent, non-profit organization that promotes education, the arts and urban design.

“The Millennium Gate Museum is honored to celebrate 40 years of consular relations with Japan initiated by then-Gov. Jimmy Carter. This relationship has fostered great friendship and prosperity for both Georgia and Japan,” Rodney Cook, president of the foundation, told Global Atlanta.

These sentiments were echoed by Kazuo Sunaga, Japan’s consul general based in Atlanta, who said that he looked forward to the upcoming event, calling it “a beautiful way to honor Japan and Georgia’s 40 year partnership.”

The opening of the consulate in 1974 firmly anchored quickly evolving ties between Georgia and Japan, which can be traced to the initiatives of former-Gov. Carl Sanders in the mid-1960s in creating a sister-state relationship with the Kagoshima Prefecture located on the Japanese island of Kyushu.

The goodwill missions, home stays and educational exchange missions between Kagoshima University and the University of Georgia became cemented with commercial ties within a decade.

The opening of plants by YKK USA Inc., the manufacturer of zippers, hooks and loops, in Macon and the electronics firm Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in Smyrna, in the early 1970s were the first signs of Georgia’s growing attractiveness for Japanese investment.

To increase the inward investment, then-Gov. Jimmy Carter opened a Georgia trade and investment office in Tokyo in 1973 and the following year Japan opened its consulate general in Atlanta.

Since then the ties between Georgia and Japan have been magnified many times over with the founding of a Japanese chamber of commerce, the Japan-America Society of Georgia, a Japanese language school, many cross-cultural programs and the presence of more than 500 Japanese companies located in the state..

The ceremony at the Millennium Gate will feature the planting of 40 cherry trees, complementing the traditional annual cherry blossom festivals that began in Washington in 1912 and spread throughout the country, but most notably in Macon where it draws each year more than 100,000 visitors.

Mr. Cook said that he hoped the ceremony would bring many attendees to the park and stir the same sort of excitement in the city that accompanied the visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan to Atlanta in June 1994.

He also said that the ceremony was in keeping with the tradition of the Smei-Yoshino trees themselves that symbolize friendship, the renewal of spring and U.S.-Japanese relations.

The park’s lake is to be ringed by the trees much like the Tidal Basin in Washington is ringed with similar trees that were a gift of friendship from Japan in 1912.

Mr. Cook added that it is his hope representatives from Japan and Georgia will plant a new cherry tree annually to symbolically recognize peaceful relations in perpetuity.

For more information about the ceremony, call Jeremy Kobus, director of development, at (404) 446-4305 or send an email to