THE PHILIPPINES-JAPAN SOCIETY
by unanimous resolution of its Board of Directors,
proudly confers upon
AMBASSADOR MAKOTO KATSURA
MEDAL OF MERIT
for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion of
Makoto Katsura was born in February 1948 in Kamakura City, 50 kilometers south of Tokyo, where the Samurai Government in Japan’s history was first established about 900 years ago.
In 1970, he passed the Higher Diplomatic Service Examination while studying law and politics at the University of Tokyo. In 1971, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) which started his 40-year diplomatic career where he became heavily involved in international law, science and technology cooperation, disarmament negotiations and immigration policy.
Ambassador Katsura has held diplomatic posts in Paris, Vienna, Islamabad, Manila, Geneva and Vientiane. He first served in Manila in November 1994 as Consul-General of the Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. As the Deputy Chief of Mission, he was deeply involved in the enhancement of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the acceleration of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from Japan to the Philippines.
In 1995, sensitivities were resurfaced with the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. Ambassador Katsura thus actively exerted efforts to resolve post-war issues, including the establishment of the Asia Women’s Fund in the Philippines. His first posting in Manila ended in February 1997, by which time Ambassador Katsura had become closely acquainted with Filipinos from different sectors of society, many of whom became very good friends, including leading members of the Philippines-Japan Society.
In July 2004, Ambassador Katsura was nominated Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which happened to hold the Presidency of ASEAN that year. When the ASEAN +3 (Japan, China, Korea) Summit was held in Vientiane in November 2004, Ambassador Katsura arranged several bilateral meetings for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, including one with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines, which led to fundamental agreements on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement also known as JPEPA .
In August 2007, Ambassador Katsura was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of the Philippines. Upon his arrival in September that year, he delighted many Filipinos with his famed comment that he was honored to return as a “Balikbayan”, underscoring his keen understanding and close affinity with the Filipino nation.
The landmark JPEPA was signed in September 2006, and subsequently approved by the Japanese Diet at the end of the same year. In the Philippines however, the Senate – whose approval by a 2/3 vote of the 24 Senators is required for treaty ratification – a protracted debate on the treaty-like Agreement ensued. In order to muster the required vote, Ambassador Katsura exerted enormous efforts to convince the Senators, of which administration-Senators supportive of JPEPA numbered less than half the body. It took almost two years of relentless work, with the invaluable cooperation of leading members of the Philippines-Japan Society, for JPEPA to be finally approved on 8 October 2008, with just the minimum 16 Senators (2/3) voting in its favor.
The enactment of JPEPA in 2009 ushered a new wave of Japanese FDIs which carved 60% of all FDI’s received by the Philippines from the rest of the world that year. In 2010, Japan became the top buyer of Philippine exports, and it continues to be the country’s largest trading partner today. Under the JPEPA, Filipino nurses and caregivers have been allowed to work in Japan under special arrangements, marking a significant breakthrough in Japan’s labor policy environment and providing significant long-term benefits to both countries.
The term of Ambassador Katsura was characterized by the sustained advancement of Japan’s ODA and marked increases in FDIs, continuing on his accomplishments while serving as Deputy Chief of the Japanese Mission in the Philippines during his first stint in Manila.
As relations between Japan and the Philippines continued to strengthen in all areas, Ambassador Katsura proposed to both Governments that bilateral Philippines-Japan relations be called a “Strategic Partnership”. Based on his astute proposal, President Arroyo and Prime Minister Taro Aso agreed to further strengthen the ”Strategic Partnership” of Japan and the Philippines, which was pronounced when President Arroyo visited Japan in June 2009. Strategic Partnership continues to distinguish Philippines-Japan relations to this day.
In Mindanao, Japan is an important partner of the Philippines in peace-building efforts, most notably with the participation of JICA experts in the International Monitoring Team. The ODA-based Japan Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (JBIRD) is an important component of the peace framework in Mindanao. Under JBIRD, funding and allied support mechanisms have led to the construction of vocational training centers, schools or water supply facilities in former conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. These programs in Mindanao were initiated and significantly enhanced during the term of Ambassador Katsura in the Philippines.
Just a month after his arrival in October 2008, during an inauguration of a JBIRD Project, Ambassador Katsura met Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Twice thereafter, he visited former conflict-affected areas including Datu-Piang to distribute rice to internally-displaced persons by the conflicts, and to inaugurate JBIRD projects. In December 2009, Ambassador Katsura went to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the inaugural meeting of the “International Contact Group” to facilitate the peace process in Mindanao.
A few months after his departure from the Philippines, in August 2011, President Benigno S. Aquino III and MILF Chairman Murad clandestinely chose a hotel near Narita Airport to meet each other for the first time. This was a historical meeting that directly resulted from Japan’s longstanding contribution to the Mindanao peace process as a trusted third country partner.
After serving three years and 7 months in the Philippines, Ambassador Katsura returned to Japan in April 2011 and retired from the Foreign Service a month thereafter. In August that year, Ambassador Katsura was designated Advisor of the Marubeni Corporation, in which capacity he continues to be significantly involved in promoting Japanese trade and investments in the Philippines.
In June 2013, Ambassador Katsura became the President of the Philippine Society of Japan, a non-profit established in 1935 dedicated to the enhancement of friendly relations between the two countries, and which is the counterpart in Japan of the Philippines-Japan Society.
Then in October 2013, Ambassador Katsura was appointed Special Assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, concurrently Ambassador for Science and Technology Cooperation.
Ambassador Katsura is married to Yasuko, and they are blessed with three children.
In recognition therefore of his tireless efforts and outstanding achievements in promoting the principle of Strategic Partnership that now defines Philippines-Japan relations, especially exemplified by his crucial role in the enactment of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement; as well as in fostering closer, friendlier people-to-people exchanges between our two peoples, the Philippines-Japan Society proudly confers upon Ambassador Makoto Katsura the 37th Philippines-Japan Medal of Merit, the highest award within its gift to convey.
Given this 24th day of July in the year of our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen, in Manila, Philippines on the occasion of the 37th Philippines-Japan Friendship Celebration and the 43rd year of the Philippines-Japan Society.
FRANCIS C. LAUREL
JOSE VICENTE E. JIMENEZ