On 30 July 2017, Mrs. Mari Miyoshi, Ambassador of Japan to Ireland, presented the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Mr. Bon Koizumi and Mrs. Shoko Koizumi for their outstanding contribution to the mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Ireland.
Mr. Bon Koizumi is the great-grandson of the writer and translator Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), perhaps “Japan’s best-known Irishman” (John Moran) who was born on Lefkada Island, Greece, to an Irish military surgeon and a Greek mother. He is also known as Yakumo Koizumi in Japan where he found a home, married Setsu Koizumi, the daughter of a Matsue samurai, became a citizen and wrote 14 books on cultural subjects.
Bon and his wife Mrs. Shoko Koizumi have been introducing the life and works of Lafcadio Hearn to countries around the world including Japan, Ireland, and Greece since 1990. Hearn’s understanding of Japanese culture and his ‘open-minded’ spirit helped many to nurture mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Ireland. As board members of the Sanin Japan-Ireland Association, Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi have been involved with various activities for the purpose of not only publicising Bon’s great-grandfather but also introducing Irish culture to Japan. Matsue City, where Lafcadio Hearn used to live, has a strong relationship with Dublin, often exchanging reciprocal visits.
At the presentation ceremony, Ambassador Miyoshi said, “I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi for their outstanding contributions to deepening the mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and Ireland over the last decades”, and continued, “On this occasion of the 60th anniversary of Japan-Ireland diplomatic relations, it gives me great pleasure to award the Foreign Minister’s Commendation to Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi’’. Mr. Masuo Nishibayashi, Ambassador of Japan to Greece, also sent Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi a congratulatory message.
Mr. and Mrs. Koizumi commented, “It is an honour for us to accept this award for our activities. We are grateful for the support of the Japanese Embassy in building bridges of understanding and friendship between Ireland and Japan”.