THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY
by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
proudly confers upon
MEDAL OF MERIT
for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion
of Philippines-Japan Relations
Kiyoshi Osawa was born on January 31, 1906, in the town of Gunma, a farming village in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from Takasaki High School in 1924 and the following year, at the age of 19, he came to the Philippines and landed at the port of Zamboanga as a free immigrant. For six months, he worked as a clerk/field laborer at a coconut plantation owned by an American in Basilan Island. In 1929, at the age of 23, he established in Manila the K. Osawa Shops, sole distributors of Mizuno sporting goods and Club cosmetics. In 1939, he was voted President of the Japanese Young Men’s Association of Manila (membership approximately 1,000).
During the war, he was made Managing Director of the Fuel Distribution Union by the Japanese Military Administration in the Philippines. Towards the end of the last war while evacuating from Manila, somewhere in Bulacan, his thighs were accidentally run over by a truck. He was eventually brought to the Philippine General Hospital where he underwent first aid and surgery. Contracting tetanus, he received the last sacrament just before he slipped into a comma which lasted for 22 days. Manila was then under American siege and was continuously being bombarded by the U.S. Forces. During those days, it was extremely dangerous for anyone to help the Japanese, but his Filipino friends took all the risks in order to save his life. They hid from the guerillas and American soldiers in one corner of a corridor in PGH, caring for him and covering his face with a white cloth so he would be mistaken for a dying man. Thus, he was able to survive.
He is grateful to all the Filipinos who forgot themselves to keep him alive and who risked their lives to preserve his. People would say that in his case, survival was a miracle. But he often asks himself: “Had I been in another country surrounded by another people, would this have been possible?”
Repatriated to Japan in 1946, he returned to the Philippines in 1959, the one pre war immigrant to do so. He engaged in the development and trading of minerals between Japan and the Philippines and worked incessantly for the normalization of Philippines-Japan relations as a token of his dying love and gratitude for the Filipino people. In 1970, in recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the 5th Sacred Order by the Japanese Government for his dedication to the development of goodwill between the Philippines and Japan. He is the only Japanese in the Philippines who has received this special award. He was the only guest from the whole of Asia to be invited to the 60th anniversary of Emperor Hirohito.
In 1978, he published in Tokyo his autobiography “A Japanese in the Philippines”, a book in which he described his life in the Philippines and his discovery of the soul of Filipino humanity. Because of this book, he was invited to numerous speaking engagements in Japan and was subsequently featured in a TV documentary. This Book was translated into English in 1981. Presently he is publishing the following books: Dreams of Endless; The Japanese Community in the Philippines before, during and after the war; and The Way for the Philippines and Japan is one, all of which have contributed toward better understanding of the Filipino people.
From 1984 to 1989, as Chairman of the Manila Japanese Residents’ Society, he published a monthly newsletter, wherein he devoted himself to writing full page articles and commentaries primarily aimed at correcting the wrong image of the Philippines as painted by some of the Japanese mass media. Copies of the newsletter were regularly sent to 125 Japanese newspapers, radio, and TV broadcasting companies as well as to various government officials and civic organizations in Japan.
In 1976, he established NYK-FilJapan Shipping Corporation, an agent of NYK line in Tokyo. He was president of this company from 1976 to 1991. He is currently NYK-FilJapan’s Board Counsellor. He is also the co-founder of NYK-FilShip Management Corporation and of Dolphin Ship Management Corporattion, both of which are engaged in the training of Filipino seamen for NYK ships and other shipping lines. He was Board Chairman of these two companies until 1991, when he became the companies’ Board Counsellor. Currently, he is also the Board Counsellor of Yusen Air and Sea Service in the Philippines. All of these efforts and achievements have contributed the development of the Philippine economy.
Mr. Osawa is an honorary citizen of the Municipality of Muntinlupa, an honorary chairman of the Manila Kai and active chairman of the Philippine Gunma Kai. He is also a life-time associate member of the Philippines-Japan Society.
Now, the first and only among the former Japanese immigrants to the Philippines to become an awardee of the Philippines-Japan Society, this Medal of Merit is heartily conferred upon him on the felicitous occasion of his 88th birth anniversary in full recognition of his lifetime dedication and outstanding achievements in the promotion of Philippines-Japan relations.
Given at Makati, Metro Manila, this 28th day of February in the year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Four on the 23rd year of the Society.
JOSE S. LAUREL III BENJAMIN F. SANVICTORES
President Emeritus President
BENJAMIN C. LAUREL