KUCHING: Japan-Malaysia Association coordinator in Sarawak Kazue Sakai received the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation award yesterday.
The award was in recognition of her continuous efforts to promote mutual understanding and friendly relations between the two countries.
“In recognition of such remarkable achievements, Madam Sakai was awarded the Consul General of Japan at Kota Kinabalu in 2016, as well as ‘Order of the Star of Hornbill’ for her loyalty and contribution to Sarawak awarded by the state government in 2014,” said Embassy of Japan in Malaysia deputy chief of mission Hiroyuki Orikasa, who presented the award to Sakai.
“The year 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Japan and Malaysia, which we have been celebrating and will continue to celebrate until the end of August this year.”
Among the significant contributions Sakai – who came to Sarawak in 1976 – has made include extending assistance to newly-arrived Japanese nationals.
Sakai has also helped Japanese companies and non-governmental organisations in the state, and assisted Japanese tourists, who were stranded, upon the request of the police.
She has actively participated in local community events to further mutual understanding and strengthen friendship between the Japanese community and Malaysians.
Another of Sakai’s significant contributions is the restoration and maintenance of the Japanese cemetery here, where she has even funded repairs for tombstones.
She has also worked on the restoration of tropical forests in cooperation with the Forest Department since 1996.
In 2008, she established the non-profit organisation ‘Borneo Rainforest (Sarawak)’, which holds projects involving Malaysian and Japanese volunteers.
Among those present at the ceremony were Permanent Secretary to Ministry of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat, Kuching Japan Club president Yoshio Akimoto, and Consular Office of Japan in Kota Kinabalu counsellor Hiroko Matsuo.