By Roy Mabasa
A Japanese foundation has donated to the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation a doll in recognition of the former Filipino leader ’s act of granting amnesty to more than 400 Japanese soldiers who were awaiting death sentences at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa after World War II.
Named “Pray for Peace,” the white doll symbolizes Alicia (wife of President Quirino) and their three children created by renowned Japanese artist and doll maker Akemi Abe.
In 1945, Quirino lost his wife and three children at the Battle of Manila when Japanese soldiers fought the returning American soldiers.
Jiro Kano, chair of the Kano Public Interest Foundation, together with his wife Kaneko of the Kano Museum of Art, met the other day with Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda to discuss the donation and its significance to the life and times of the former Philippine president.
The Kano’s deep connection to the Philippines can be traced back to their father Kanrai Kano, who tirelessly appealed to then-President Quirino for the grant of amnesty to Japanese soldiers in the aftermath of World War II.
It was in 1953 when then-President Quirino forgave and granted amnesty to Japanese soldiers, about 437 prisoners of war and 114 other Japanese nationals.
Quirino granted the executive clemency amid fear of being criticized at the height of the prevailing post-war anti-Japan sentiments.
It is widely believed that Quirino’s courageous act greatly contributed to the normalization of Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations, and laid the foundation of the current friendship between Japan and the Philippines.
The Kano Foundation official said the doll is “meant to show that President Quirino’s wife and three children had transformed into angels.”
The doll is now on display, together with the appeal letter of the elder Kano to the former president, at the Muntinlupa Museum, which officially opened on March 1.
In her speech during the unveiling ceremony at the Muntinlupa Museum, Ms. Kano said that Japanese people must be profoundly grateful for the amnesty grant and never forget its significance.
On June 18, 2016, the Philippine embassy in Japan hosted the unveiling ceremony of the Memorial to former President Elpidio Quirino at the site near Hibiya Public Hall.