By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Former Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana (File photo)

MANILA – Tokyo on Saturday announced the conferment of Japanese decorations on four Filipinos, including former Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, for helping strengthen Philippine-Japan relations.

In a statement, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said the four will receive the following decoration:

Alberto G. Romulo
– Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun

Delfin N. Lorenzana
– The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star

Gamaliel A. Cordoba
– The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon

Dr. Cynthia Neri Zayas
– The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette

“The Government of Japan warmly congratulates these four outstanding Filipinos and appreciates their significant contributions to forging stronger ties between Japan and the Philippines,” the Embassy said.

Romulo served as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2011.

On the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Philippines, he contributed to the formulation of the Japan-Philippines Joint Statement, entitled “Partnership between Close Neighbors for Comprehensive Cooperation”, which forms the basis for today’s “Strategic Partnership” between the two nations.

By leading negotiations with Tokyo on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, the Embassy said he “helped elevate the two countries’ economic relationship to new heights”.

He also spearheaded the launch of the Japan-Philippines Politico-Military Dialogue to exchange views on wide-ranging matters such as the regional situation in the Indo-Pacific, as well as important political and security issues.

Lorenzana served as the Secretary of National Defense from 2016 to 2022 during which defense cooperation and exchanges between Japan and the Philippines were greatly enhanced, particularly with the participation of the Japan Self-Defense Forces in joint exercises between the Philippine and United States armies.

It was also under his tenure in 2020 that a contract was concluded between the Department of National Defense and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Inc. for the delivery of air surveillance radar systems.

“This marks the first overseas transfer of defense equipment between Japan and the Philippines, bolstering the two nations’ defense equipment and technology cooperation. Former Defense Secretary Lorenzana’s strong leadership paved the way for the further deepening of Japan-Philippines defense relations,” the Embassy said.

Former commissioner Cordoba, meanwhile, served at the National Telecommunications Commission from 2009 to 2022 and made “significant contributions to advancing cooperation between Japan and the Philippines in the field of telecommunications”.

He vigorously promoted the application of ISDB-T, a terrestrial digital television broadcasting standard devised by Japan.

“He greatly contributed to the Philippine government’s decision to adopt ISDB-T in June 2010 and to the reaffirmation of its adoption in November 2013. Furthermore, he initiated efforts for the smooth launch and dissemination of ISDB-T in the Philippines, in cooperation with the Japanese public and private sectors,” the Embassy said.

Zayas, the Philippines’ leading maritime anthropologist, on the other hand, is a foremost Japanologist.

Having completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in Japan, she collaborated with Japanese anthropologists in pioneering maritime anthropological studies in the Philippines.

Her internationally recognized works on the cultures of disasters and free women divers (ama) in Japan deepened understanding of Japanese society worldwide, the Embassy said.

“Dr. Zayas was also instrumental in introducing Japanese traditional performing arts to the Philippines. She continues to promote Japanese culture and society through her research and professorial stints at the University of the Philippines,” it added. (PNA)