Japan Foundation Conferred 41st PJS Medal of Merit

On July 31, 2019, The Philippines-Japan Society (PJS) conferred upon The Japan Foundation (JF) the 41st Medal of Merit for outstanding achievements and contributions in promoting and strengthening Philippines-Japan relations. During the formal awards night held at the New World Hotel in Makati City, PJS President, Mr. Francis C. Laurel and Vice-President, Mr. Gerard B. Sanvictores, donned the Medal of Merit to The Japan Foundation, represented by Executive Vice-President, Mr. Tomoyuki Sakurai and presented the plaque of the Citation, which was read by  Atty. Jose Vicente E. Jimenez, PJS Corporate Secretary.

The Japan Foundation was established on October 1972. The foundation remains to be the only institution dedicated to carrying out cultural and intellectual exchanges between Japan and other nations worldwide. Its programs focus on three areas: 1. Arts and Cultural Exchanges; 2. Japanese Studies and Intellectual Exchanges; and 3. Japanese Language Education Overseas. In 2014, it established The Japan Foundation Asia Center—a special unit aimed at furthering cultural exchange between Japan and Southeast Asia. In 1996, Japan Foundation Manila (JFM) was established as its 18th overseas office.

Since 1997, JFM has been a close and active partner of the Philippine Institute of Japanese Language & Culture Foundation (PIJLC) and Nihongo Center Foundation (NCF) specifically in the field of Japanese language education and training. PIJLC and NCF operate under the aegis of The Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation (PJFF), an affiliate of PJS. One notable, long-running collaboration has been the 6-month Intensive Japanese Language Program for Filipino Nurses and Care Workers under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) program. Filipino Nihongo teachers under PIJLC and NCF have also received grants and participated in training programs at the foundation’s offices in Urawa and Kansai. 

As stated on the MOM citation:

“Indeed, the vision, mission, and advocacy of the Philippines-Japan Society and all its affiliated Philippines-Japan friendship associations, including both the PIJLC and NCF, are markedly aligned with those of The Japan Foundation, making us natural partners in our shared quest for peace, prosperity, and strong partnership between our two countries through genuine and close friendships between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines.”

Read the full Citation of the Medal of Merit presented to The Japan Foundation here.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Sakurai conveyed how the foundation is greatly honored by the recognition and how he feels that the relationship between Japanese and Filipinos is at its golden age— its closest and friendliest ever.

“…on behalf of The Japan Foundation, l would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Philippines-Japan Society for awarding us with such a prestigious medal of merit.”

“…the conferment of this medal of merit would not have been possible without the enormous contribution of many highly-capable and talented Filipino staff members since the establishment of The Japan Foundation, Manila in 1996.”

“I feel that the present relationship between Japanese and Filipinos is at its closest and friendliest ever. We are blessed with a golden age in Japan-Philippines relations.”

Read the full acceptance speech of Mr. Sakurai here.


Ambassador Makoto Katsura, President of The Philippine Society of Japan, spoke at the awards night, while the greetings of H.E. Koji Haneda, Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Philippines were read by Minister Atsushi Kuwabara, Minister and Consul General of Japan in the Philippines. The Philippines-Japan Ladies Choral, led by Maestra Teresita A. Santos,  delighted the guests with their medley of Filipino and Japanese songs. 




Citation of the Medal of Merit
Acceptance Speech by Mr. Tomoyuki Sakurai
Opening Remarks by Mr. Francis C. Laurel
Greetings by Amb. Koji Haneda (read by Minister Atsushi Kuwabara)
Photo Gallery

Amb. Manuel Lopez Receives Medal of Merit at 38th Phil-Japan Friendship Dinner

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Japan, Manuel Moreno Lopez, received the Medal of Merit from the Philippines-Japan Society (PJS) during a 38th Philippines-Japan Friendship Dinner and Awards Night held at the New World Hotel, Makati last July 29, 2016. As the highest award the Society can confer, the Medal of Merit recognized Ambassador Lopez’ outstanding achievements in the promotion of Philippines-Japan relations citing his major accomplishments as Philippine Ambassador to Japan.

PJS President, Francis C. Laurel, and Vice-President, Gerard B. Sanvictores, presented the award to Ambassador Lopez after the reading of the Citation by Atty. Jose Vicente Jimenez, PJS Corporate Secretary.

In his acceptance speech, Ambassador Lopez expressed his deepest gratitude and respect to PJS and its Japanese counterpart, The Philippine Society of Japan (Hiripin Kyokai) for the work that these organizations have been doing in promoting deeper understanding and genuine friendship between the two countries.

“With great honor and deep appreciation, I humbly accept this Medal of Merit from the Philippines-Japan Society. This recognition of my work as the Philippine Ambassador to Japan is very special to me, coming from an organization whose ideals, beliefs, and goals are totally congruent with mine,” said the Ambassador.

He also thanked the people who have worked with him and supported him during his 5-year posting and shared the award to the estimated 220,000 Filipinos residing in Japan. “Our Kababayans in Japan are our real ambassadors of our country. This realization defined my work the past 5 1/2 years as Ambassador and made me work even harder for them.”

The annual affair was graced by equally distinguished guests including the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, Kazuhide Ishikawa, and Ambassador Makoto Katsura, President of The Philippine Society of Japan, who himself was last year’s recipient of the PJS Medal of Merit.

Working Towards Strategic Partnership

Named ambassador to Japan in 2010 by President Benigno S. Aquino III, Ambassador Lopez worked towards elevating the two countries’ relations to the level of a strong strategic partnership for which he was conferred the Order of the Sikatuna.

One of Ambassador Lopez’ major accomplishments was his management of a close working relationship with Japan towards the peaceful resolution of the West Philippine Sea issue. He also secured Japanese support, assistance, and expertise in addressing the Philippines’ vital infrastructure needs, including the Mega Manila Transport Roadmap.  

Moreover, Ambassador Lopez sustained the expansion of trade with Japan, oversaw the acceleration of direct investments of Japanese companies in the Philippines, and  he shepherded the intake of Japan’s record-high Official Development Assistance to the Philippines.

Barely two months from assuming his post, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Very new to the job, Ambassador Lopez heroically marshalled the Philippine Embassy staff in locating, assisting and safely evacuating Filipinos affected by the disaster, not only in the Tohoku region but the entire country as well.  It was a dramatic start of his fledgling diplomatic career – steeped with unprecedented challenges – which fortuitously turned into a blessing as it served to weld the strong and solid relationship of his Philippine Embassy team that would serve the large Filipino community in Japan for the next five years.

Ambassador Lopez’ tour of duty was highlighted by not just a few high-level visits between the Philippines and Japan, including the State Visit to the Philippines of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013, the State Visit to Japan of President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2015, and more recently, the historic visit to the Philippines of their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan last January 2016 – wherein he played significant central roles that resulted in major diplomatic milestones.  



PJS Citation for Amb. Lopez, Medal of Merit
Acceptance Speech of Amb. Lopez
Program, 38th Phil-Japan Friendship Dinner and Awards Night
38th Phil-Japan Friendship Dinner and Awards Night Photo Album