A Davao-based school head honored the assassinated former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as she formally accepted last weekend an award from Japan’s government.
Ines Yamanouchi Mallari, president of Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku in Davao City, was conferred with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, in November last year.
She received the award last Saturday at Dusit D2 Davao Hotel, ABS-CBN reported.
“I am personally grateful to PM Abe for his kindness and generosity to us Nikkeijin (Japanese descendants in the Philippines),” Mallari said in her speech, a copy of which she shared to ABS-CBN News.
Abe died after being shot last July 8 in Nara, Japan while delivering a campaign speech.
Japan’s longest-serving prime minister visited Mallari’s school in January 2017, during which, according to her, “he was able to do some high five, selfies or shook hands with” the students.
Mallari is also president of the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai, Inc. which helps post-war Filipino-Japanese descendants regain their Japanese citizenship.
She recalled that in 2015, Abe accommodated her group in his office in Tokyo “to listen to our appeal to help fast-track the recognition of our remaining stateless members who are already in the twilight of their existence.”
“The Nikkei community was saddened by the way PM Abe died… The world lost a great leader, while the Philippines including the Nikkei community, lost a great friend and supporter,” she said.
“To preserve PM Abe’s legacy and to reciprocate the generosity of the Japanese government, I, as one of the young recipients of this prestigious award, commits to continue working hard to make a difference in the lives of the people in our community,” the 51-year-old recipient added.
“I shall make use of this award as my driving force, to be able to continue all the worthy activities that our organization have started, and since my mission is not over yet, I shall embark on new worthy projects and activities that will further improve the lives and condition of the Nikkeijin.”
Mallari’s award is the third of 6 classes in the Order.
It is “in recognition of her valuable contributions in vigorously promoting academic exchange and mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the Philippines,” Yoshihisa Ishikawa, consul general of Japan in Davao, said in his remarks during the awarding ceremony.
The Order of the Rising Sun has been conferred on several Filipinos in the past, including former President Jose Laurel and several Philippine ambassadors to Japan, according to the government’s Official Gazette.
The Japanese embassy had said that Japan’s awarding of honors, including decorations and medals is an act performed by the Emperor with the advice and approval of the Cabinet, based on Article 7 of the Constitution of Japan.
Aside from Mallari, former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin was also awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, which he formally received at the Japanese Ambassador’s Residence last May 6.
Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa conferred the award on behalf of Emperor Naruhito. It was given in recognition of Gazmin’s contribution to strengthening the relations between Japan and the Philippines in the defense sector.