Dr. Jose P. Laurel was president of the 2nd Republic of the Philippines during World War II (1943-1945). As a lawyer for the local Japanese community before World War II, he was able to build strong ties with the Japanese before, during, and after the war. Although he stepped down from the presidency immediately after the war, Dr. Jose P. Laurel continued to involve himself in politics and was eventually elected to the Philippine Senate. As a Senator, he participated actively in the ratification of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1952 and the Reparations Agreement in 1956 that restored normal relations with Japan. It seems that, by this time, he already had an inkling that Japan would become a strong economic force in Asia.
Dr. Jose P. Laurel first expressed his desire to establish a local counterpart for the Philippine Society of Japan, also known as Hiripin Kyôkai , in 1959. He called on Ambassador Felino Neri, the Philippines’ first postwar ambassador to Japan, his son, Jose S. Laurel III, a preeminent Japanologist who became an ambassador to Japan, and Benjamin F. Sanvictores, a representative of the “Nanpô Tokubetsu Ryûgakusei” or the Filipino scholars who studied in Japan during the war, to help him establish the current Philippines-Japan Society. Unfortunately, he passed away on the day of the society’s first organizational meeting on November 06, 1959.
His son, Ambassador Jose S. Laurel III, carried on where he left off, pursuing the society’s establishment which took place 12 years later. Like his father, Ambassador Jose S. Laurel III had a long-standing relationship with Japan and the Japanese people because he had lived and studied there for several years, eventually serving as the Philippine Ambassador to Japan from 1966 to 1971. Before leaving Japan to return to the Philippines in 1971, he made a number of courtesy calls on politicians and businessmen who where friends of his father. These men included then-Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, Former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi (President of the Hiripin Kyôkai at the time), Mr. Shigeo Nakano who was the President of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mr. Koguro Uemura, the Chairman of the Economic Federation of Japan, also known as the Keidanren. During these visits he strongly expressed his desire to work for the establishment of the Philippines-Japan Society as the counterpart organization of the Hiripin Kyôkai and pursue his father’s dream. This was enough to convince these Japanese politicians and businessmen to support his cause.
On the Philippine side, he sought the assistance of former Secretary of Labor Primitivo Lovina, Mr. Enrique Zobel, Ambassador of Tourism Antonio Delgado, and Mr. Victor A. Lim who served as the Philippine Commissioner General to the Osaka Expo in 1970, as well as Ambassador Felino Neri and Amb. Benjamin Sanvictores, both of whom were part of the society’s original core group.
Through the efforts of these men, The Philippines-Japan Society, Inc. that Dr. Jose P. Laurel envisioned became a reality on December 29, 1971. Inauguration ceremonies were held on January 17, 1972 at the Manila Hilton Hotel. The event was graced by former Prime Minister Nobusuki Kishi, in his capacity as the President of the Hiripin Kyôkai, as well as former Japanese Ambassador to the United States and adviser to the Philippine Society of Japan, Koichiro Asakai, Fuji Photo Film Company President and Vice-President of the Hiripin Kyôkai, Setsutaro Kobayashi, C. Itoh and Company Vice President, Tamotsu Shiobara, Hiripin Kyôkai managing director, Heiwa Sogo Bank, Eizo Komiyama and Oyama Shipping Line President, Tomomitsu Oyama, and Fuji Tours President, Kiyoshi Togasaki. The incorporation papers as a non-stock, non-profit organization were registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission only on January 17, 1972 under SEC Registration Number 46269.