Japan has given $1 million to help clean up debris from the March 2011 tsunami that has washed up on the British Columbia coast.

The grant signifies Japan’s “token of gratitude to the government of Canada and the Canadian people in recognition of the tremendous support” in the wake of the tsunami, Japanese Consul General Seiji Okada said.

The Canadian government accepted the money with “great humility” and described it as a “gesture of the continuing friendship between Canada and Japan”.

“This is an important symbolic gesture of Japan,” federal Environment Minister Peter Kent said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Japanese government has made similar $1 million grants to each of the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California to help make amends for the debris that has been washing ashore for several months, with tons more expected to reach the coastline in the next year.

An estimated 1.5 million tons of debris was washed out into the Pacific Ocean following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered the tsunami and swept through northeastern Japan two years ago.