Almost two months after the twin disasters in Japan, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez
remains busy, this time with the repatriation of Filipinos from Fukushima.
On April 17, the ambassador accompanied a batch of Filipino repatriates from Narita, where they had been brought by the Philippine Embassy repatriation team. The repatriates—19 mothers and 25 children—were living within the 100-kilometer radius of the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in northeastern Japan.
From Narita, Amb. Lopez escorted them to Manila onboard a commercial Philippine Airlines flight. To date, almost 100 Filipinos have been repatriated in line with the repatriation program implemented by the Philippines. A second batch of repatriates that included 27 children have since followed the initial batch of 44. Like the latter, they were brought to Narita, where the embassy had arranged for their overnight stay, from Fukushima City.
Manuel Lopez“We offered voluntary repatriation as a humanitarian option for those concerned,” Amb. Lopez said. Even as foreign embassies scrambled to shut down or leave the Japanese capital because of radiation concerns, the Philippine Embassy, led by Amb. Lopez, had continued to extend assistance to Filipinos affected by the twin disasters.
“We are fully committed to remain here to serve the needs of Filipinos in Japan,” the ambassador had vowed in March. An estimated 225,000 Filipinos live in Japan, with little over a thousand based in Miyagi province, which was hit by the March 11 tsunami.
Meanwhile, on April 7, Amb. Lopez presented his credentials to Emperor Akihito at a ceremony held at the Imperial Palace. Also present were Japan’s Justice Minister, Satsuki Eda, and senior officials of the Philippine Embassy.
Manuel LopezDuring the ceremony, Amb. Lopez conveyed to the emperor the sympathies of the Philippine nation for the earthquake which struck Eastern Japan in March. He expressed the solidarity of the Filipino people with the people of Japan and reiterated the Philippines’ readiness to provide further assistance to the devastated areas. Emperor Akihito, for his part, expressed appreciation for the letter of sympathy of President Benigno S. Aquino III and inquired about Filipinos affected by the earthquake.
The former CEO of Meralco, Amb. Lopez was known for instituting a culture of “malasakit” as the distribution utility strove to overhaul its image in the 1990s. Despite numerous challenges and crises, his stewardship of Meralco was distinguished for being a period of industrial peace and progressive initiatives.