Cambodian Journalists Alliance

Japan recognizes academics, government official for contribution to relations

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The Japanese Embassy has recognized three people as “outstanding persons” for promoting mutual understanding through university exchange programs between Cambodia and Japan.

Oum Ravy, vice rector of the Royal University of Phnom Penh; Ek Buntha, deputy director of intangible cultural heritage at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts; and Takakazu Yamada, visiting professor at the Royal University of Fine Arts, were awarded the recognition at a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Japanese Ambassador Masahiro Mikami said Ravy had helped Japanese students study Khmer Literature in Cambodia, and was also director of the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center.

“Ms. Ravy worked hard to push relations through exchanges with universities in Japan,” Mikami said.

Buntha, meanwhile, studied at Sophia University in Tokyo and created an association for Cambodian alumni in Japan, Mikami said.

“Mr. Buntha joined a push for cultural exchanges between both countries, such as joint research,” the ambassador said.

Finally, Yamada was a Japanese painter who had depicted Cambodian landscapes since 1994 using a unique ink that was neither oil nor watercolor, Mikami said.

An Angkor Wat painting that hangs in the Japanese Embassy was painted by Yamada, Mikami said.

“Starting in 2008, Mr. Yamada has participated in Khmer fine arts education as a visiting professor at the Royal University of Fine Arts and as director of the Yamada School of Art,” he said.

Mikami explained that contributions to education and culture could be harder to measure compared to fields such as economics, but that over time they were important for bringing people together.

“Education and culture can connect the relationships between human beings and human beings more closely than other sectors,” Mikami said. “These three persons connected and [fostered] cooperation between Japanese people and Cambodian people.”

Ahead of the award ceremony, the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry announced its list of outstanding persons on July 16.

A press release said Ravy contributed to mutual understanding through academic exchanges; Buntha promoted mutual understanding through cultural exchanges; and Yamada inspired Cambodian artists through arts education.

Ravy at the ceremony thanked the Japanese government for always providing aid, including equipment, technical support and funds to develop the economy and Cambodia’s human resources. It was through a Japanese government scholarship that she was able to pursue her higher education in 1995, she said.

Ravy earned her Ph.D. in Japan in 2002 before returning to work at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Ngov Penghuy, president of Japan Alumni of Cambodia (JAC), said he was happy to see the three individuals recognized.

About 1,000 Cambodian students have completed studies in Japan to date, Penghuy added.

Three other Cambodians have received the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry’s outstanding persons nod in the past, including Royal University of Phnom Penh rector Cheat Chealy and National University of Management rector Hor Peng, he said.

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