The representative of Umuco Mwiza School
As Japan-Rwanda 60 years anniversary celebrations continue, the Japanese embassy in Kigali has awarded outstanding individuals and associations that promote people’s lives and cultures of both countries.
They were awarded at the Japanese ambassador residence in Kigali city on Wednesday 27.
Among the awardees is Guy Didier Rurangayire, founder of Japan Karate Association – Rwanda. The association aims at promoting, organizing, regulating and popularizing karate in Rwanda while protecting physical and mental health of the athletes.
“Karate is a sport which also trains people to be good citizens. This is what we have been doing since 2015. We did our best to train the young generation and our efforts have been recognized. We are proud of that,” Rurangayire, founder of the association said.
Others are Prof. Yukiko Ito, Professor at Gakushuin Women’s College that promotes women empowerment and capacity building, and Yoshiyuki Sato, CEO Organic Solutions, which provides microbes for public health purposes in local communities.
Also, Umuco Mwiza School, a Child Development Center (ECD) was awarded for promoting children education in Kigali City.
Daniel Niyogushimwa, CEO of Japanda, a local restaurant that prepares Japanese Cuisine was not left out. The restaurant prepares rice bowl, tofu, soybean curd, salad, and shiso (Japanese basil) mixed with fresh tomatoes.
“We prepare food, but we also bring together different people of different races to be one. Whether Japanese or Rwandans, we always want to give our clients a memorable taste of our cuisine,” Niyogushimwa said.
All were awarded certificates.
According to Masahiro Imai, the Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda, their activities have not only contributed to building the foundation of both countries, but also encouraged Japan’s younger generation to start an adventure in Rwanda.
“Some young Japanese have come to Rwanda to try new businesses, to work as an intern or a volunteer to acquire experience which would help them to consider their future businesses here,” Imai said.
“In fact, Japan-Rwanda friendship consists of many activities and cooperation. High-level officials’ visits and Japanese cars driven on Rwandan roads are the visible ones, which are easily recognized by people. There are other fields, however, which aren’t always noticeable but very fundamental for our friendship, such as Education, Support for Persons with Disabilities, and Business, Arts, Sports and Cuisine just to name a few. Those activities are closely related to our daily lives, and these are exactly the fields where today award winners have actively contributed,” he added.
He pointed out that for sixty years of bilateral relations a wide range of opportunities have been established mutually and beneficial for both countries.
Rwanda and Japan have been cooperating in sectors including education, Information Technology and Communication (ICT), agriculture, and, energy supply, sports.
Japan has been one of the reliable partners in Rwanda’s post-genocide reconstruction; and implementation of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and the current Vision 2050. Since 2005, JICA has intervened in 22 projects valued at more than $201 million. Between 2022 and 2026, it is projected that Japan through JICA will have supported 42 domestic projects and 3 East African integration projects worth over $337 million.
“We are working closely to attract more Japanese investors to Rwanda. Their country has excellent car manufacturers like Toyota. So, it is important to have them here,” Director General of Asia and Pacific Affairs said.
He pointed out that both countries share an unbreakable bond of friendship which is built on mutual trust, shared interests, solidarity, growing people-to-people contact and cultural connection and they both further promote business.
Rwanda-Japan relations started back in 1962 at the dawn of Rwanda’s independence.
Since then, countries have enjoyed cordial relations, with diplomats participating in several activities including Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) Summits.
In January 2019, President Paul Kagame made an official visit to Japan and held high level meetings with His Majesty Emperor Akihito and late Prime Minister ABE Shinzo.