By unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors
proudly confers upon
MEDAL OF MERIT
For Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion of
Philippines-Japan Relations in grateful recognition of his exemplary contributions
to the development and growth of Philippines-Japan relations
Less than 2 years before KIYOSHI SUMIYA presented his credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Philippines in April 1985, Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. was assassinated at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport , sparking massive outrage, not only in the Philippines but the world over. The country then fell into its worst post-war socio-political crisis.
Japan was naturally very concerned about fast-deteriorating events in the Philippines. As a geographically close ally, any radical change in the political structure was fraught with serious geopolitical ramifications.
Such was the unenviable situation of Ambassador Sumiya when he assumed his post in Manila. In hindsight, the Japanese Government must have read the brewing situation correctly when it named him to be its Ambassador – for Ambassador Sumiya proved to be the consummate diplomat – suave, mild-mannered, cool, and certainly possessed with the diplomatic experience needed for a sensitive post at a very crucial moment.
Seven months into Ambassador Sumiya’s term (in December 1985), then President Marcos called “snap” presidential elections to be held in February 1986. The announcement caught the political opposition off guard and the country plunged into graver uncertainty. The world, Japan not the least, began closely monitored events unfolding in the Philippines.
By the last week of February 1986, two weeks after the fraud-ridden elections, the Philippine situation deteriorated into an uneasy political stalemate catching Filipinos and all freedom-loving peoples of the world hanging on threads. Then, in what many regard as divine intervention, the popular, bloodless and historic People Power Revolt took place. By February 26, 1986, the Marcos dictatorship had fallen. Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino, widow of martyr Benigno Aquino was installed president of the Republic of the Philippines.
By the last week of February 1986, two weeks after the fraud-ridden elections, the Philippine situation deteriorated into an uneasy political stalemate catching Filipinos and all freedom-loving peoples of the world hanging in threads. Then, in what many regard as divine intervention, the popular, bloodless and historic People Power Revolt took place. By February 26, 1986, the Marcos dictatorship had fallen. Mrs. Corazon C. Aquino, widow of martyr Benigno Aquino, was installed President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Based on Ambassador Sumiya’s sharp assessment of the situation at that time, it is to his credit Japan became the first country in the world to officially recognize the new Philippine government under the leadership of President Aquino. It was needed a masterful stroke of diplomacy.
Who then is this man who rode the waves of recent Philippine history?
Born in Tokyo in 1925, KIYOSHI SUMIYA graduated from the Tokyo Imperial University with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Law in March 1948. In April of the same year he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His first overseas assignment to United States in 1952, was already the Deputy Director-General of the American Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 1974, Ambassador Sumiya was appointed Minister, Embassy of Japan in Moscow, He then moved to Chicago in 1976 as Japan’s Consul-General; then as Minister, Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C., USA. In 1981, he was named Japanese Ambassador to Hungary. In 1983, he returned to Japan as Chief of Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then came his Philippine assignment in 1985.
As Aquino, government stabilized in the first half of 1986 amidst international admiration over the unprecedented results of the Philippines experiment on peaceful political change, Ambassador Sumiya lost no time in rebuilding Philippines-Japan relations. A primordial task was to ensure an active and significant role for japan in a resurgent Philippines. It was during Ambassador Sumiya’s Tenure that President Corazon C. Aquino made the very successful State Visit to Japan in November 1986. His tenure saw the conclusion of numerous ODA agreements, including the Multilateral Aid Intiative for the Philippines, which Japan, spearheaded. All these development programs were designed to pull the Philippines out of its economic difficulties, and to help the government provide better lives for its citizens.
In late 1986, Philippines-Japan bilateral relations again put to a test with the abduction of the General-Manager of Mitsui & Co., Ltd. – Manila Branch. Once more, Ambassador Sumiya found himself in the midst of a recalcitrant crisis. Fortunately, Mr. Wakaoji was eventually released and the celebrated case was put to a close. But for Ambassador Sumiya, the task of rebuilding Philippines-Japan relations was just beginning.
During the 3 years that Ambassador and Madame Sumiya were in the Philippines, they became very close friends of the Philippines-Japan Society. Who can forget Ambassador Sumiya’s highly applauded tenor performances during the Annual Friendship Dinners? The love of the Sumiyas for music endeared them to countless Filipinos leaving fond memories which remarkably overshadow his otherwise crisis-ridden tenure. The Sumiyas are known for their concern for the poor, especially the street children. When Ambassador Sumiya returned to Japan in March 1988, Madame Sumiya organized the Pag-Asa Group, Japan, which to this day Pilipino means Hope in English; Kibou in Nihonggo. Having been his country’s Ambassador Sumiya now considers his Philippine assignment one of the most memorable in his illustrious career.
Returning to Tokyo in 1989, Ambassador Sumiya was fittingly appointed Grand Master of the Ceremonies. Imperial Household Agency, a post he held until his retirement in 1995. Ambassador Kiyoshi Sumiya is currently an Executive Advisor to the New Otani., Ltd.
Ambassador Sumiya has been bestowed various awards of distinction by Japan and many other countries, such as First class, Order of the Sacred Treasure from His Majesty the Emperor of JAPAN (1998); Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur; France (1994); Encomienda de Numero de la Ordre de Isabel la Catolica, Spain (1994); Great Cross Ordem do Merito, Portugal (1993); Das Grosse Verdienstkreuzmit Stren, Germany (1993); Knight Grand Cross (First Class) of the Most Honorable Order of the Crown of Thailand (1991); Orde Van Oranje- Nassau, the Netherlands (1991); Honorary Gohan Mangku Negara- The Most Distinguished Order of Pangkuan Negara, Malaysia (1991); Datu of the Order of Sikatuna, of the Republic of the Philippines (1988); Order of the Knights of Rizal, Knight Commander of Rizal, Philippines (1987); Grand Official, Ordem Nacional do Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil (1984); First Order, Qatar (1984); Order of St. Olav, Commander with Star, Norway (1983), and Second Order, Egypt (1983).
In acknowledgement of the aforesaid achievements and of his untiring efforts in the promotion of lasting friendship between the peoples of the Philippines and Japan, the Philippines-Japan Society hereby proudly confers upon the Honorable KIYOSHI SUMIYA, the 22nd Philippines-Japan Society Medal of Merit, the highest award within its gifts to convey.
Done this 28th Day of February in the year of our Lord Two Thousand in Makati City, Metro Manila Philippines on the occasion of the 22nd Philippines-Japan Friendship Celebration, and the 28th year of the Philippines-Japan Society.
BENJAMIN F. SANVICTORES
JOSE S. LAUREL III
BENJAMIN C. LAUREL