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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Pays Tribute to José Rizal in Remarks at Nikkei Future of Asia Conference

27 May 2013 – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid tribute to Philippine National Hero José P. Rizal, as he shared his thoughts on the future of Asia and Japan’s role in the region at the 19th Annual Nikkei International Conference on “The Future of Asia”, last May 23.

Addressing the Conference’s dinner event, PM Abe described Asia as a region that values education and desires freedom, and opened his remarks titled “An Asia of Tolerance and Humility That Learns from Each Other” with two famous quotations on the subject from Rizal, whom he called “the great hero of Philippine modernization”.

The Prime Minister first quoted one of the novel El Filibusterismo’s most famous lines: “It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.” The Japanese leader then cited his favorite Rizal quotation, from Rizal’s 1890 essay in the La Solidaridad: “without education and liberty, which are the soil and the sun of man, no reform is possible, no measure can give the result desired.” PM Abe noted that Rizal’s espousal of education and freedom form the same basis for the five principles of Japan’s ASEAN diplomacy which he articulated during his Southeast Asian trip last January.

PM Abe referred to the deep admiration for José Rizal among the Japanese people, recalling the 50-year-old Rizal memorial in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park that commemorated the Philippine patriot and polymath’s 1888 sojourn to Tokyo and Yokohama.

José Rizal’s Memorial in Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

Established in 1995, the Nikkei Future of Asia conference is regarded as Asia’s premier foreign policy forum. The 19th Conference also featured Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario, who delivered a well-received speech earlier in the day.

During his two-day sojourn, Secretary del Rosario held meetings with PM Abe, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and other Japanese officials on the furtherance of the Philippines-Japan bilateral strategic partnership.