Two Cambodian graduates were awarded the illustrious Commendation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the first year of the Reiwa era. They are Mr. Ek Bunta (current Deputy-Director General in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who graduated in 1999 with a master’s degree from the Graduate Program in Area Studies of the Graduate Division of Foreign Studies of Sophia University), and Dr. Ms. Oum Ravy (current Vice President of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, who graduated in 2002 with a doctorate from the Graduate Program in Area Studies of the Graduate Division of Foreign Studies, of Sophia). The commendations were in recognition of the plentiful activities they had undertaken and remarkable contributions they had made, for the ‘promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and Cambodia.’
The two of them were international students in the Graduate School of Sophia, and Professor Dr. Yoshiaki Ishizawa (current director of the Sophia Asia Center for Research and Human Development) was the professor who directed their theses. On receiving their master’s and doctoral degrees the two returned to their homeland, and since then, their efforts to serve as bridges between Japan and Cambodia, has enabled them to attain this award.
On August 25th Professor Ishizawa met the two in Phnom Penh, and conveyed to them the felicitations of the President and Chancellor of Sophia University. On his doing so however, the two of them, reflecting back with deep emotion on their adolescent days, remarked, “During the the Pol Pot regime the whereabouts of our fathers was unknown, and with our having to eat rice for every meal, life for us was awfully hard. Yet, we believed that if we but studied, a time would arrive when we would be able to give our best for our nation. The result of our efforts was that we entered Graduate School in Japan as government-sponsored international students, and while we were in the university ever so many Japanese people lent us a helping hand. The credit for what we now are goes to the people of Japan, and we are grateful for their goodwill.”
Alongside the joy of having received the commendation the two voiced their deep gratitude to the Japanese who had been of service to them, and whose memories proved to be a renewed source of happiness for them.
Reference: Commendation of the Foreign Minister in the first year of the Reiwa era (Press release of July 16, Reiwa 1)