On 28 July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan announced the list of recipients for the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for the fiscal year 2011. The Foreign Minister’s Commendations are awarded to individuals and groups for their outstanding achievements in international fields, to acknowledge their contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries.
Two individuals and one group have been awarded this commendation in Sri Lanka. Shihan Tadashi Komenoi, a Japanese national who was the founder of Sri Lanka Aikido Association, was awarded this commendation for his outstanding contribution in promoting Aikido in Sri Lanka. (Aikido is a Japanese art of self-defence.) Komenoi who returned to Japan in March 2011 after residing in Sri Lanka as a businessman for many years, received his commendation on 28 July 2011 at a special ceremony held in Tokyo. The second individual recipient of the Foreign Minister’s Commendation is Sylvester Merrick Gooneratne, for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and Sri Lanka. The Shi-En Ikebana and Floral Society of Sri Lanka has been awarded this commendation in the group category in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japanese culture in Sri Lanka.
Merrick Gooneratne, an old boy of Maris Stella College, Negombo and a graduate from the Peradeniya University was a Research Scholar who lived and studied in Japan under the Monbukagakusho scholarship scheme and earned his Post Graduate Research Certificate in International Economics from the Kyoto University, Japan. He also completed Module one of the Masters Degree Programme in Japanese Studies at the University of Colombo and is fluent in Japanese language conversation. Having served in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, he was appointed as Commissioner, Sri Lanka Tea Board in Tokyo, Japan. Since his postgraduate studies in Japan, he had joined the Japanese Graduates Alumni Association of Sri Lanka (JAGAAS) and is now the President of that Association. He was also the Secretary General of Lanka Japan Friendship Society and as a member of both these Associations, he has actively promoted friendly relations between Japan and Sri Lanka in various ways. Furthermore, he has forged trade ties with Japan and is presently the Executive Director, Tos Lanka Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. – a fully Japanese owned BOI Enterprise in Hi Tech Electronics.
The Shi-En Ikebana and Floral Art Society of Sri Lanka was established in 1991 and has been holding annual floral exhibitions and demonstrations with the participation of renowned international Ikebana experts, and promoted the art of Ikebana in Sri Lanka for many years.