by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
hereby confers upon

The Honorable ZENKO SUZUKI
Former Prime Minister of Japan



 for outstanding achievements in the promotion of
Philippines-Japan relations


Mr. Zenko Suzuki was born on January 11, 1911 in the small fishing port of Yamada, Iwate Prefecture in the Sanriku Coast off  the Pacific Ocean. It was in this quiet and enchanting country that he was reared under the rigid norms of the fishing community, which must work and live in harmony in order to survive and prosper, an upbringing that would play a decisive influence in his later life.

After finishing elementary education in the local school, Mr. Suzuki enrolled in the Iwate Prefectural Marine Industry School in the nearby town of Miyako, where having distinguished himself in academics and sports, he graduated among the top students of his class. Thereafter, he enrolled at the prestigious Imperial Fisheries Institute (now Tokyo University of Fisheries) where he pursued not only academic excellence but also physical and spiritual disciplines.

Uopn his graduation in 1935, Mr. Suzuki worked for the Greater Japan Fishery Association. Applying the principles he had imbibed since childhood, he organized fisheries cooperatives and spearheaded the modernization of the Japanese fishing industry.

His desire to better serve the interests of the fishermen throughout the country led Mr. Suzuki to enter politics in April 1947, when the second Post-War elections were held. He easily won a seat in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Suzuki rose steadily in the hierarchy of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and, in 1960, he became Minister of Posts and Telecommunications. Four years later, he became Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Ikeda Cabinet. In 1965, Mr. Suzuki was appointed Minister of Health and in the first Sato Cabinet and, in 1976, became Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in the Fukuda Cabinet. He served a total of 9 terms as Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party Executive Council.

As Minister of Health and Welfare, Mr. Suzuki is credited with the successful resolution of the bitter conflicts between the doctors and the Ministry over the size of insurance payments to doctors. As Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, he successfully negotiated the establishment of the 200-mile fishery zone and resolved the knotty fisheries talks with the Soviet Union. As Chairman of the LDP Executive Council, Mr. Suzuki distinguished himself as a leader by satisfactorily adjusting the divisive within the LDP regarding the normalization of Japan’s diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

When Mr. Suzuki became Prime Minister in 1980, he announced that he would carry out his duties and “carve out of the future of Japan in the spirit of harmony.” He  also reiterated the Japanese government’s resolve to continue assisting the ASEAN Countries in their quest for greater national and regional resilience and development. Fortunately for the ASEAN, Prime Minister Suzuki continued the hear-to-heart policy of his predecessor and gave greater impetus to educational and cultural exchanges. Prime Minister Suzuki likewise encouraged the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) in its efforts to forge closer ASEAN-Japan relations.

The official visit by then Prime Minister Suzuki to the Philippines in 1981 on the occasion of his visit to the ASEAN countries promoted further the friendly relationship between the two countries. Indeed, it was upon His Excellency’s initiative that the Human Resources Development Center in the Philippines was established under Japanese grant aid and that technical cooperation has been extended to the Center thereafter.

Former Prime Minister Suzuki, however, is better known in the Philippines as the Special Emissary of the Japanese Government who came to Manila in 1974 to convey to the Government and people of the Philippines the gratitude of the Japanese Government and people for the magnanimous treatment of Lt. Hiroo Onoda following his rescue from the jungles of Lubang Island where he holed out for 30 years. The visit of Mr. Suzuki, then Chairman of the LDP Executive Council, brought about the establishment of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation which now performs a vital role in the promotion of closer and more meaningful ties between the Philippines and Japan.

The Philippines-Japan Society acknowledges with deep gratitude the praiseworthy efforts of former Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki in promoting greater understanding and cooperation between the Philippines and Japan as well as the ASEAN and wholeheartedly presents this Medal of Merit — the highest within the mandate of the Society.

DONE this 28th day of February 1990 in the City of Manila, Philippines.





            BENJAMIN C. LAUREL