My friend Yasuaki Mori was born in 1954 in Osaka, Japan. Mori was the eldest of a brood of TWO (2) children. Mori’s father who was conscripted in the Japanese military was assigned to Manchuria which is located in Northeastern part of China, which place in China was then a Japanese puppet state. At that time, Manchuria and the whole of China was under the reign of the Last Chinese Emperor Pu Yi. And the Japanese Imperial Forces maneuvered a take over of Manchuria with the significant help and support of the “zaibatzu“, the Japanese industrial conglomerates at that time.
However, when the Japanese Imperial forces were vanquished by the Allied forces led by the United States in World War 2, Soviet Russia invaded Manchuria and the northern territories of Japan, consisting of a couple of islands, thereby breaking the Soviet-Japan neutrality pact. And Mori’s father was sent in exile as a prisoner of war to Siberia. Nevertheless, after a year, Manchuria was formally transferred to the Chinese government and Mori’s father was repatriated to Japan after 3 years of forced labor under the frigid climate of minus 20-30 degrees Celsius in wintry Siberia.
Inspired by the push towards rebuilding the ruins of wars and the thrust into economic development after the Second World War, particularly the mandate given to Gen. Douglas MacArthur for Japan’s reconstruction, Mori’s father plunged into the business of the celluloid industry.
Aside from its principal use for cinematographic films, celluloid was useful for creating cheaper jewelry, jewelry boxes, hair accessories and many items that would earlier have been manufactured from ivory, horn or other expensive animal products. It was often referred to as “ivorine” or “french ivory”. It was also used for dressing table sets, dolls, picture frames, charms, hat pins, buttons, buckles, stringed instrument parts, accordions, fountain pens, cutlery handles and kitchen items.
Celluloid could be then considered as the first thermoplastic material introduced in the world. The main disadvantage of the celluloid material was that it was highly flammable. Thus, for its highly inflammable quality, eventually celluloid was banned in Japan, and Mori’s father’s business closed shop. Items made in celluloid are collectible today and increasingly rare in good condition. It was soon overtaken by thermoset plastic which is made from formaldehyde.
Mori started out as a bureaucrat of the Japanese government in the field of international trade and industry. After going through university, he took the government examination and even before graduating, he successfully passed it, ranking as No. 6 among thousands of examinees. The main reason why he chose to work with the Japanese government was his aspiration to be involved in crafting policies in the field of natural resource energy such as solar, wind and biomass power. For 29 years thereafter, Mori became part of the diplomatic community of Japan, as a commercial attache, with his last diplomatic posting in China. Mori’s maiden assignment was in the Netherlands, though not so large a country (actually it is just 1/6th in area compared to the Philippines), several globally big companies are based therein, such as ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, PHILIPPS, UNILEVER, etc. During his stint in Netherlands, Mori was awarded the HIGHEST ORDER OF ORANGE-NASSAU by Dutch Queen Beatrix for his efforts to normalize the diplomatic relations between Japan and the Netherlands especially so with the demise of the former Emperor Hirohito. Prior to this, there were anti-Japanese sentiments being spread among the Dutch royal family as well as the upper and middle class Dutch people. Mori exerted persevering efforts to visit as many places in the Netherlands to appease the Dutch people as the invasion of Japanese forces into the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) during World War 2 ruffled the feelings of the Dutch people. Thereafter, after Mori’s various diplomatic postings, he embarked on his teaching profession on industrial policy and intellectual property management such as patent, trademark, copyright or trade secrets, etc. at the Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan.
Waseda University is a private university located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. Waseda University is considered to be one of Japan’s most prestigious universities, consistently ranking among the top universities in Japanese university rankings. The university has many notable alumni in Japan, with seven Prime Ministers of Japan and many CEOs, including Tadashi Yanai, the CEO of UNIQLO. Also, Masaru Ibuka, SONY’s founder, graduated at the engineering school of Waseda University. Interestingly, the founder of the Samsung Group of Companies (i.e. Lee Byong-Chul) similarly attended school at the Waseda University.
The university was established in 1882 as the Tōkyō Senmon Gakkō or Tōkyō College by Ōkuma Shigenobu. However, the school was renamed Waseda University in 1902 after the founder’s hometown village. The university consists of 13 undergraduate schools and 23 graduate schools.
Mori first came to the Philippines in 1991 and in 2011, after getting divorced from his Japanese wife, he met a Filipina by the name of Manilyn with whom Mori has sired THREE (3) children namely: Rikaan, the eldest daughter who is 3 years old; Yuna, another daughter who is 2 years old and Ryu, a 2 month old baby boy. Mori’s family keeps a pet dog named Ramram. The pet dog’s breed is “Japanese Chin”. According to WIKIPEDIA, the Japanese Chin is unique in that they are owned strictly for companionship. This pet dog’s peculiar appearance and personality eventually captured the hearts of the Japanese royalty and that its ownership resulted in being restricted to those of royal and noble blood. Though there is some documentation that indicates Portuguese sailors introduced the breed to Europe in the 17th century, by presenting them to Catherine of Braganza, Queen Consort to King Charles II of England, there is more credible evidence that the first Japanese Chin were given as gifts by the Emperor of Japan to an American naval officer. The name of that American naval officer is Matthew Calbraith Perry. The gift-giving happened when Perry visited the Orient in 1853 to open trade with the East. Perry was given seven (7) Japanese Chin, but only TWO (2) survived the passage back to the USA.
Mori wants to retire and call Cebu, Philippines as his home TWO (2) years from now as he is eyeing early retirement from his teaching job at Waseda.
What is peculiar from Mori’s perception of the Philippines is that Mori holds lots of promise and high hopes for the Philippines. By his own perception, Mori feels that Japan has reached full maturation already and that for the Philippines, our country is yet to push onward to a rosy road of political, economic and social maturation.
When I called his attention to the corruption which is prevalent in our country, Mori said that Japan was similarly mired in corruption in the past. When I spoke about the dirt and grime in the metropolis and the gargantuan traffic problem, Mori said that Japan also passed that same stage in the 60s. Actually, Mori said that with Japan’s attainment of full maturity, land values have started to decline. In fact, Mori said that in suburban cities not so far from Sapporo City, Hokkaido, which is the Japanese northern island one could even own a homelot for a song (some kind of a homestead, perhaps). I was amazed when Mori told me that a homelot about 333 square meters in area could be procured for just about Php 300.00. Also, Mori laments the fact that Japan’s population is also now experiencing a continuing decline. Thus, Mori perceives that there will be more action, more improvement, more progress in the Philippines in the future, as there is no other way for our country but UP, as it still is admittedly way below its full maturation.
Indeed, the perception of Mori brings hope and positive outlook for the future of our country, the Philippines. In Mori’s dream, he wants his eldest child Rikaan to become a Filipino doctor someday; while for Yuna, he nurtures the dream of making out a Filipino lawyer from the yet fragile child. For Ryu, his only boy; he wants Ryu to become a Filipino engineer. Mori has in fact done his research as to which academic institution, he would initially bring his children for matriculation…and he has picked the Sacred Heart School which is more popularly known as the Ateneo de Cebu. Mori said that he prefers Cebu as it is also the choice of his friends who are to retire and are craving to relocate into a blissful life in Cebu —with no more frigid winters that could ail their vintage and aching bones and the abundant availability of affordable maids that could make living easier and comfy for a senior citizen like him.
Indeed, comments and perceptions from a foreigner such as Mori truly fattens a Filipino’s heart.
Just like my American friend Lewis Edwards, who was the subject in my earliest blog, Mori appears to be more of a Pinoy than the typical Filipino who may have lost all hopes for our country. Welcome to the Philippines Mori!!!