DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 July) – The Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Mintal expressed their condolences to the family of Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the people of Japan, on behalf of the barangay council and the people of Mintal, home to thousands of Japanese nationals here a century ago.
“We convey our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and to the people of Japan in this difficult time. He will always be remembered and his excellent leadership will be looked up to by the young leaders of Barangay Mintal,” the SK said in its statement, a copy of which was furnished MindaNews on July 15.
Abe, who stepped down as Prime Minister in 2020 due to health reasons, was shot was shot while delivering an outdoor speech in Nara, Japan on July 8.
In January 2017, Prime Minister Abe visited Davao City with his wife, Akie, had breakfast in the residence of President Rodrigo Duterte, attended a meeting with business leaders at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, graced a ceremonial adoption of a Philippine Eagle he named “Sakura,” and visited a Japanese school while his wife visited Barangay Mintal.
In their statement, the Brgy. Mintal SK said the visit “fostered historical appreciation between Barangay Mintal and Japan.”
The local government declared Barangay Mintal a Japanese heritage site in 2009.
A century ago, Davao City was referred to as “Davaokuo” or Little Tokyo. Most of the Japanese nationals lived and worked in Mintal and worked in the abaca plantations then.
Japanese businessman Ohta Kyozaburo started an abaca plantation in Mintal, which paved the way for the Japanese to dominate plantation trade and commerce in the city.
In 1926, an obelisk was constructed within the compound of the Mintal Elementary School in honor of Ohta who died in Japan in 1917.
The Japanese built schools, hospitals, commercial and other infrastructure projects and a cemetery in Mintal, still referred to now as the Japanese Cemetery.
Then the First Lady of Japan, Akie visited the cemetery to pay tribute to the Japanese who were buried there. Today, deceased locals are also buried there.
In January 2017, as they were preparing for the visit of Japan’s First Lady, Emerson Espino of the City Mayor’s Office, designated watchman at the Mintal Cemetery, told MindaNews that at least 3,000 Japanese are buried in the cemetery and busloads of Japanese visit the are particularly in the month of August. (Veda Sachi C. Daliling / MindaNews intern)