Blessed Takayama Augurs Well for Future of Philippine-Japanese Relations – Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda

“Today’s unveiling of Blessed Takayama’s statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share… We sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.” — Ambassador Koji Haneda

TAKAYAMA STATUE AT PLM CHAPEL
Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle blesses the altar-statue of Blessed Takayama at the PLM University Chapel on June 29, 2019

Remarks of Ambassador Koji Haneda

*Delivered at the installation of a statue of Blessed Takayama on June 29, 2019 — with Japanese missionaries in the Metro-Manila in attendance.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

I am pleased to join you this afternoon in honoring Blessed Takayama Ukon with the unveiling of his statue and historical markers at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

The name Takayama Ukon is well known in Japanese history school textbooks as a Christian landlord who abandoned his status and devoted himself to his faith. However, it’s not so well known that he was exiled in the Philippines. Where we are now is the place he was allowed to stay until he passed away in 1615. Today’s unveiling of his statue and historical markers is an initiative that will resurrect memories of the common history we share. I would like to thank all those who have engaged in this historic gesture.

We’ve Come a Long Way Since Takayama Arrived

Japan and the Philippines’ partnership has come a long way since the era of Blessed Takayama Ukon. Our cooperative bond has expanded beyond trade, investment, and development matters—encompassing wider cultural and people-to-people exchanges, including tourism. The number of Filipino visitors to Japan increased sixfold to 504,000 over the last six years and is still growing. Likewise, Japanese visitors to the Philippines are on the rise, reaching 631,000 in 2018.

ambassador haneda
Ambassador Koji Haneda receives Plaque of Apprciation on behalf of the “Takayama ·Ukon ·& ·His ·Wife ·Honoring ·Association” (高山右近夫妻顕彰会) of Toyono-cho (Osaka Prefecture, Japan), which gifted the PLM with the Takayama statue

In a sense, Blessed Takayama Ukon was among the pioneering Japanese visitors to the Philippines. When he arrived here over four centuries ago, I am sure he was welcomed with the warmest Filipino hospitality. Unbeknown to Blessed Takayama Ukon, he may have helped plant a seed of friendship that has grown a lot in time. Forty years have passed since the Sister City Partnership was forged between the Cities of Manila and Takatsuki in Osaka—the place where Blessed Takayama Ukon ruled as landlord. In addition, Toyono Town in Osaka, his birthplace, has been accepting Filipino English teachers since last year through the Japanese government’s Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme. These are definitely sterling examples of a bond worth emulating.

Christianity … Is ‘Our Shared History’

It now seems that, through Christianity, Japan and the Philippines may be able to revisit our shared history. Last year, the “Hidden Christian” Sites in the Nagasaki Region were registered as UNESCO World Heritage. Nagasaki is the place where St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino and Asian Saint, died as a martyr. As such, we are positive that this could spark interest and encourage more Filipinos to visit Nagasaki. In the same way, we sincerely hope that the installation of the statue and markers of Blessed Takayama Ukon here will attract more Japanese tourists to take part in history-walks around Intramuros.

TWO BRONZE TAKAUAMA MARKERS AT PLM CHAPEL
Two markers — in English and Kanji — explain the historical importance of the PLM/Jesuit Compound. These were unveiled by Ambassador Haneda and the Apostolic Nuncio Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps

Finally, I would like to reiterate my deepest gratitude to everyone who has endeavoured to make today’s event possible. With people like you, we can be certain of an even brighter future for the close friendship between Japan and the Philippines.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay po kayo.#

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