Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控) chairman Jeffrey Koo (辜濂松) yesterday won an important honor from the Japanese government for his longstanding efforts to promote economic and diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Japan, the company said in a statement.
Koo, founder of Taiwan’s third-largest financial services provider, will be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan’s first national decoration, established by Emperor Meiji in 1875, for his achievements in international relations and contributions to Japan’s welfare, especially after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 last year.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is scheduled to present the award in person on May 8, the statement said.
Koo, who is on friendly terms with the Japanese prime minister, key cabinet officials and business leaders, has helped facilitate economic and social exchanges between the two countries, especially since Japan switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1972, a move that created unease among the business community about bilateral trade ties, the statement said.
In 1989, he was received by Japanese Emperor Akihito and in 2000 assumed the leadership of the local chapter of an East Asian economic association, which allowed him regular meetings with Japanese business organizations to tap potential trade opportunities, the statement said.
The forthcoming award will be the latest addition to the many honors Koo has won over the past 40 years as a result of his continued attempts to elevate Taiwan’s -international standing via non-governmental platforms, the statement said.
In 2009, Koo was awarded the Order of Propitious Clouds by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at the Presidential Office for his outstanding contributions to national development.
The 78-year-old banker won the distinguished alumnus award from the US-based Eisenhower Fellowships Inc in May last year for promoting international exchanges and world peace.
Koo, the first Taiwanese to win the honor since the establishment of the fellowships 60 years ago, flew to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to receive the award from the group’s chairman and former US secretary of defense General Colin Powell.
In October last year, Koo won the Illustrious Service Award from the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a non-governmental body with UN consultative status.
In addition to his financial achievements, Koo is also an enthusiastic philanthropist.
In 1985, he launched the “Love for Kids” fund-raising campaign to help disadvantaged families battle against poverty and created Chinatrust Charity Foundation (中信慈善基金) in 2004 to strengthen the cause, the statement said.
Chinatrust Financial and the foundation raised over NT$46.68 million (US$1.59 million) in donations last year to help Japan rebuild quake-stricken areas, the statement said.
Koo aims to continue his effort to expand Taiwan’s diplomatic and economic space, an undertaking that led him to fly around the world 17.5 times in one year, and to sleep less than five hours a day, the statement said.