National

Japanese scholar receives prestigious 2017 Magsaysay Award for his work in Cambodia

Kyodo

Japan’s Yoshiaki Ishizawa on Thursday received the Ramon Magsaysay Award, one of Asia’s highest honors, with a vow to carry on his advocacy for cultural heritage preservation and promotion.

Ishizawa, 79, a former president of Sophia University who spent decades helping to restore Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, is one of this year’s six recipients of the prestigious honor regarded as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

The others are Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Gethsie Shanmugam of Sri Lanka, Tony Tay of Singapore, and Lilia de Lima and the Philippine Educational Theater Association of the Philippines.

All five individuals and Cecilia Garrucho, president of PETA, attended the award ceremony on Thursday held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila. Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo conferred the awards.

At the ceremony, the recipients received a certificate, a medallion bearing the image of Magsaysay, and a cash prize. The 2017 recipients join 318 other Magsaysay laureates.

Ishizawa was recognized for his “selfless, steadfast service to the Cambodian people, his inspiring leadership in empowering Cambodians to be proud stewards of their heritage, and his wisdom in reminding us all that cultural monuments like the Angkor Wat are shared treasures whose preservation is thus, also our shared global responsibility.”

On Wednesday, Ishizawa spoke about the importance of the award to his work at a lecture in Manila.

“I’m working in Cambodia, but the fact that my work is appreciated so much all over Southeast Asia, I’m deeply honored and happy about that,” Ishizawa said at the lecture held at the National Museum, speaking in Japanese.

He said the award will enable him to carry on and complete his work “not only in Cambodia but in other parts of Southeast Asia also.”

“It’s not just the monuments, but the culture of the country, the customs, the intangible cultural properties, the music, the literature, and all that. All those are very important factors. And the Magsaysay Award will enable people to realize this importance even more,” he said.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation was created in 1957, named after the former Philippine president who died in a plane crash that year, to honor outstanding individuals and groups in Asia.