4 Pinoys to receive Japanese spring conferment

Pia Lee-Brago

MANILA, Philippines — Four Filipinos, including former foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo and former defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, will receive the 2023 Spring Conferment of Japanese Decorations for their contributions to forging stronger ties between the Philippines and Japan.

The Japanese government on Saturday announced the recipients of the 2023 Spring Conferment of Japanese Decorations.

Dr. Cynthia Neri Zayas, the country’s leading maritime anthropologist, and Gamaliel Cordoba, former commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission, are also recipients of the award.

Romulo, who served as foreign affairs secretary from 2004 to 2011, will be awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun while the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star will be awarded to Lorenzana.

Zayas will be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. Cordoba will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Philippines, Romulo contributed to the formulation of the Japan-Philippines Joint Statement titled “Partnership between Close Neighbors for Comprehensive Cooperation,” which forms the basis for today’s strategic partnership between the two nations.

By leading negotiations with Japan on the “Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement,” the Japanese embassy in Manila said Romulo helped elevate the two countries’ economic relationship to new heights.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana served as defense secretary from 2016 to 2022. During his term, the embassy said the defense cooperation and exchanges between Japan and the Philippines were significantly enhanced.

It was also under his tenure in 2020 that a contract was concluded between the Department of National Defense and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. Inc. for the delivery of air surveillance radar systems, marking the first overseas transfer of defense equipment between Japan and the Philippines.

Having completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in Japan, Zayas collaborated with Japanese anthropologists in pioneering maritime anthropological studies in the Philippines.

“Her internationally recognized works on the cultures of disasters and free women divers, or ‘ama,’ in Japan have deepened the understanding of Japanese society worldwide,” the embassy said in a statement.

Zayas was also instrumental in introducing Japanese traditional performing arts to the Philippines. She continues to promote Japanese culture and society through her research and professorial stints at the University of the Philippines.

The embassy said Cordoba has made significant contributions to advancing cooperation between Japan and the Philippines in the field of telecommunications. He vigorously promoted the application of ISDB-T, a terrestrial digital television broadcasting standard devised by Japan.

He significantly contributed to the Philippine government’s decision to adopt ISDB-T in June 2010 and to the reaffirmation of its adoption in November 2013. He also initiated efforts for the smooth launch and dissemination of ISDB-T in the Philippines, in cooperation with the Japanese public and private sectors.

“The government of Japan warmly congratulates these four outstanding Filipinos and appreciates their significant contributions to forging stronger ties between Japan and the Philippines,” the embassy’s statement read.

In November, the late former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from Emperor Naruhito of Japan for being instrumental in building the Japan-Philippines bilateral relationship toward becoming a “strategic partnership” and ensuring the safety of ships in the waters around the Philippines.