Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Japan, Manuel Moreno Lopez, received the Medal of Merit from the Philippines-Japan Society (PJS) during a 38th Philippines-Japan Friendship Dinner and Awards Night held at the New World Hotel, Makati last July 29, 2016. As the highest award the Society can confer, the Medal of Merit recognized Ambassador Lopez’ outstanding achievements in the promotion of Philippines-Japan relations citing his major accomplishments as Philippine Ambassador to Japan.
PJS President, Francis C. Laurel, and Vice-President, Gerard B. Sanvictores, presented the award to Ambassador Lopez after the reading of the Citation by Atty. Jose Vicente Jimenez, PJS Corporate Secretary.
In his acceptance speech, Ambassador Lopez expressed his deepest gratitude and respect to PJS and its Japanese counterpart, The Philippine Society of Japan (Hiripin Kyokai) for the work that these organizations have been doing in promoting deeper understanding and genuine friendship between the two countries.
“With great honor and deep appreciation, I humbly accept this Medal of Merit from the Philippines-Japan Society. This recognition of my work as the Philippine Ambassador to Japan is very special to me, coming from an organization whose ideals, beliefs, and goals are totally congruent with mine,” said the Ambassador.
He also thanked the people who have worked with him and supported him during his 5-year posting and shared the award to the estimated 220,000 Filipinos residing in Japan. “Our Kababayans in Japan are our real ambassadors of our country. This realization defined my work the past 5 1/2 years as Ambassador and made me work even harder for them.”
The annual affair was graced by equally distinguished guests including the Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, Kazuhide Ishikawa, and Ambassador Makoto Katsura, President of The Philippine Society of Japan, who himself was last year’s recipient of the PJS Medal of Merit.
Working Towards Strategic Partnership
Named ambassador to Japan in 2010 by President Benigno S. Aquino III, Ambassador Lopez worked towards elevating the two countries’ relations to the level of a strong strategic partnership for which he was conferred the Order of the Sikatuna.
One of Ambassador Lopez’ major accomplishments was his management of a close working relationship with Japan towards the peaceful resolution of the West Philippine Sea issue. He also secured Japanese support, assistance, and expertise in addressing the Philippines’ vital infrastructure needs, including the Mega Manila Transport Roadmap.
Moreover, Ambassador Lopez sustained the expansion of trade with Japan, oversaw the acceleration of direct investments of Japanese companies in the Philippines, and he shepherded the intake of Japan’s record-high Official Development Assistance to the Philippines.
Barely two months from assuming his post, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Very new to the job, Ambassador Lopez heroically marshalled the Philippine Embassy staff in locating, assisting and safely evacuating Filipinos affected by the disaster, not only in the Tohoku region but the entire country as well. It was a dramatic start of his fledgling diplomatic career – steeped with unprecedented challenges – which fortuitously turned into a blessing as it served to weld the strong and solid relationship of his Philippine Embassy team that would serve the large Filipino community in Japan for the next five years.
Ambassador Lopez’ tour of duty was highlighted by not just a few high-level visits between the Philippines and Japan, including the State Visit to the Philippines of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013, the State Visit to Japan of President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2015, and more recently, the historic visit to the Philippines of their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan last January 2016 – wherein he played significant central roles that resulted in major diplomatic milestones.