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Japanese trader builds classrooms in Bataan, Tarlac

MANILA, Philippines - The path that witnessed the infamous “Death March” during the Second World War is becoming a place of hope due to the efforts of a Japanese national who views the Philippines as his second home. 

Katsutoshi Shimizu, a Japanese businessman, has built classrooms in Tarlac and Bataan, provinces that saw the brutality of invading troops who happened to be his countrymen. 

The new school buildings were built at the Jimenez Elementary School in Capas, Tarlac and Bantan Elementary School in Orion, Bataan. 

These areas form part of the 128-kilometer route of the Death March that left almost 11,000 Filipinos and Americans dead due to starvation, disease and violent acts of Japanese troops. The new classrooms were inaugurated last week. 

Shimizu, 73, said the building of the two classrooms is the start of his journey to revisit the route of the Death March. He is set to build more classrooms in Bataan and Tarlac.

“I feel it is my responsibility as a private citizen to be an ambassador of goodwill and bring the rainbow of friendship between Japanese and Filipinos,” Shimizu said in a statement released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). 

“This is my way of giving back to the Filipinos. They made me what I am today,” he added. 

Shimizu built the classrooms through the help of the Department of Education, AFP and local officials.
He thanked Filipinos for giving him the opportunity to give back to his “second home.”

Shimizu noted that the Japanese came to the Philippines as invaders during the Second World War. They have returned to Capas and Orion after 70 years this time as friends, Shimizu added. 

“I thank the AFP for helping in the construction. I saved a lot of money because I did not give a single centavo to them,” he said. 

The money saved were used to buy LCD television, computers, tables, chairs, uniforms, shoes and school supplies for students. 

Each school building costs about P1.5 million, and the school equipment, about 500,000.

Shimizu, who founded the firm Shimizu and Co. Ltd. (Japan) in 1969, made some fortune in exporting ships to the Philippines. He has been doing business in the Philippines for 43 years.

Shimizu decided to build classrooms upon learning about the lack of school buildings in the country.

This led to the forging of a partnership among the Shimizu (Nagasaki) Foundation, DepEd and the National Development Support Command (Nadescom), a military unit that facilitates the delivery of basic services.

The first batch of school buildings Shimizu had funded consisted of 10 classrooms in Batangas. The buildings were constructed by local residents and military personnel.

Maj. Gen. Carlos Holganza, Nadescom chief, said the projects enabled the military to be an instrument of nation-building.

The military has implemented 1,790 development projects nationwide since 2005.
The Philippine Star 
February 27, 2012 12:00 AM


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