THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY, INC.
by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
proudly confers upon its
The Honorable JOSE S. LAUREL III
the organization’s Medal of Merit
for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion
of Philippines-Japan Relations
in grateful acknowledgement of his pioneering and unparalleled efforts
in fostering friendship between the peoples of the Philippines and Japan
pursuant to the paramount goals of this Society, whose establishment he
spearheaded a decade and a half ago and which he continues to inspire
with his incessant efforts toward the attainment of its avowed objectives
As long as he was the President of this Society, he succeeded in declining this award which he unquestionably and fully deserved. The time has come for this honor to be bestowed on this most worthy recipient who best personifies Philippines-Japan friendship.
The son of the late President Jose P. Laurel, he was, upon the suggestion of then Senate president Manuel L. Quezon, sent by his father to Japan, where he earned the distinction of being the first Filipino to be admitted to the Imperial Military Academy. There he first came to learn and love the rigors and beauty of Japanese discipline. He graduated therefrom in 1938, receiving a Japanese sword from the War Minister. Upon his return to Manila, he was commissioned Third Lieutenant in the Philippine Army. After a tour of duty with the First Regualr Division at Camp Murphy and later at General Headquarters, he was assigned Aid-de-Camp to President Manuel L. Quezon. At the outbreak of World War II, he was inducted into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and assigned Battalion Commander of the 2nd BN, 51st FA Regiment which saw action in the Atimonan-Pagbilao sector. He became a prisoner of war twice, once by the Japanese and later by the Americans at the end of the War. It was in Sugamo Prison that he first met the Honorable Nobusuke Kishi, with whom he was to forge a friendship which remains steadfast to this day.
Resigning his commission from the Philippine Army in protest against the prosecution of his father before the People’s Court, he continues his studies in law, and eventually became a member of the Philippine Bar. During the Japanese Occupation, he worked with his father in the Departments of Justice and Interior and later in Malacanang where he had his first taste of diplomacy by interceding for the release of Filipino prisoners of war. In recognition of his successful efforts in this regard, the Armed Forces of the Philippines awarded him the Philippine Legion of Honor in 1954.
Realizing the need to restore normal relations between the Philippines and Japan after their estrangement in the last World War, he agreed to serve as consultant to the Philippine negotiating panels for the Reparations Agreement 19 1955 and for the conclusion of the 1960 Philippines-Japan Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation. He also served as Adviser on Philippine-Japanese Affairs to President Carlos P. Garcia and accompanied him on a state visit to Japan following an earlier state visit of Prime Minster Kishi to the Philippines.
Returning to Japan in 1966, this time as Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines, he further strengthened Philippines-Japan friendship. In this official capacity, he brought the relations of the two countries to a warmth that transcended the pains of the last war. In 1971, a private citizen again, he undertook the spadework for the establishment of the Philippines-Japan Society, in fulfillment of his father’s dream. Later, he was also to play an important role in the establishment of the Philippine National Committee for economic Cooperation with Japan. He has since been instrumental in the founding of various other organizations dedicated to the promotion of Philippines-Japan relations, among them being the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, the Philippines-Japan Ladies Association, the Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni, and the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni. These organizations defer to him for inspiration and support and consider him their dai sempai, or “great adviser.”
After having served as President of this Society since 1971, he waived his nomination in 1985. Now, he enjoys the honor of being its President Emeritus.
Only recently, his noted acumen in Philippines-Japan affairs was recognized by President Corazon C. Aquino, who has appointed him as Senior Presidential Adviser, with the rank, title and privileges of Minister of State and Member of Cabinet.
An equally great honor is today bestowed upon him as the Filipino who has done the most to ensure lasting cordial ties between the Philippines and Japan based on mutual respect and understanding. Fittingly, this Medal of Merit is also the highest award within the gift of the Society.
Done in Makati, Metro Manila, on this 16th day of January 1987 and on the 15th year of this Society.
VICTOR A. LIM
BENJAMIN C. LAUREL