THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY, INC.
by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
hereby confers upon
The Honorable TOSHIO URABE
MEDAL OF MERIT
in appreciation and recognition of his unwavering support for
and cooperation with the Philippines-Japan Society as well as
his outstanding achievements in the promotion of
The story of Philippines-Japan friendship — as it is known today — may very well be the story of Ambassador Urabe. During his early years in the Philippines, he won the friendship of a distinguished Filipino, former President Jose P. Laurel, whom he first met in 1943 during the greater East Asia Conference in Tokyo. Together, these two statesmen, finding themselves at the delicate crossroad of a painful past and an uncertain future, saw a vision of Filipino-Japanese friendship and, by example of their own personal friendship and mutual respect, epitomized how cordial and mutually beneficial relations between the Philippines and Japan could be reestablished.
Born in Hokkaido in 1912, Mr. Urabe successfully completed the Higher Diplomatic Service Examinations in 1937. A year thereafter, he graduated from the Faculty of Law of the prestigious Tokyo Imperial University and immediately entered the Diplomatic Service. By 1952, Mr. Urabe had risen to the Directorship of the third division of the Asian Affairs Bureau, and in 1953 undertook his first assignment to the Philippines as Counsellor of the Overseas Liaison Office in Manila and Chairman of the Technical Panel negotiating the Philippines-Japan Reparations Agreement. In 1956, as Deputy Director General of the Treaties Bureau, Mr. Urabe implemented the Reparations Agreement in accordance with the spirit of friendship and mutual respect that characterized his eventful assignment in the Philippines.
From 1957, Mr. Urabe shuttled from country to country as a diplomat, sharpening even more his international perspective. In 1957, he was assigned to the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations as a Counsellor. In 1960, he was recalled to Tokyo to be the Deputy Director-General of the Public Information and Cultural Affairs Bureau and in 1961 he became the Deputy Director-General of the Asian Affairs Bureau. In 1964, Mr. Urabe was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Kenya and in 1968 to Hungary. In 1969, his active involvement with the Philippines was revived when he became Japan’s Ambassador to the Philippines. Even during his assignment in other countries, Ambassador Urabe continued to communicate with his friends in Manila.
From 1969 to 1974 — the longest tenure of any Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines to date — Ambassador Urabe served with distinction not only his country but the Philippines and the Filipino people as well. During his incumbency, the Philippines was able to secure a wide range of economic assistance from Japan, including the funding of the 2,000 km. long Philippines-Japan Friendship Highway which now links the archipelago from north to south and the construction of the Japanese Garden in Rizal Park and the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya.
It was during this period that the Osaka World Expo was hela in 1970, with the Philippines participating under then Commissioner-General Victor A. Lim, now President of the Philippines-Japan Society. When the great flood of 1972 brought disaster to countless families in Central Luzon, Ambassador Urabe stood at the forefront of the relief effort, channeling much-needed food supplies and other essentials from Japan. When martial law was declared in 1972, Mr. Urabe was still in the Philippines. In 1973, under Ambassador Urabe’s paternal stewardship and direction, Lt. Hiroo Onoda finally walked out of the jungles of Lubang Island and the war which had ended some 30 years back.
It was also during the term of Ambassador Urabe that the vision of closer, friendly relations between the Philippines and Japan was institutionalized under his active encouragement with the founding of the Philippines-Japan Society in 1972, the Philippine National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Japan in 1973 and the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines in 1974.
The accelerated progress in the socio-economic exchanges between the Philippines and Japan was characterized and made possible by Ambassador Urabe’s uniquely interpersonal brand of diplomacy. Even now, Ambassador Urabe is recognized as the most traveled diplomat ever to be stationed in the Philippines, having visited almost all the provinces of the country, even reaching remote and security-sensitive areas from as far north as the Batanes Islands to Tawi-tawi in the south. This is a feat which only a few Filipinos can equal.
Although Ambassador Urabe’s tour of duty in the Philippines ended in 1975, his personal sense of mission to the cause of Philippines-Japan friendship has never ceased. Upon his return to Japan after serving as head of the Cultural Interchange Office in Taiwan, he was elected President of the Philippine Society of Japan, the Tokyo-based counterpart organization of the Philippines-Japan Society. He is also President of the Japan Silver Volunteers, a civic organization of retired executives who render consultancy services for free, as well as Adviser to the Pilipinas Kao Corporation, a highly successful Filipino-Japanese venture engaged in the manufacture of coconut-based by-products.
Ambassador Urabe is a tireless, selfless supporter of the Philippines-Japan Society and has attended almost every celebration of Philippines-Japan friendship since 1979.
In the short span of 30 years, Ambassador Urabe has bequeathed to Japanese and Filipinos alike a lasting legacy of friendship, mutual trust and respect and sincere concern for each other’s interests. In the context of today’s complex and difficult world, Ambassador Urabe’s life shines as an inspiration of hope for a better tomorrow.
It is therefore but fitting and proper that the Philippines-Japan Society, as a token of its deep appreciation, confer its highest award upon Ambassador Toshio Urabe – diplomat, statesman and friend.
Done in Makati, Metro Manila, on this 17th day of January 1986 and on the 14th year of this Society.
VICTOR A. LIM BENJAMIN F. SANVICTORES
ANTONIO Q. PAULINO