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Japanese man returns to elementary school named for his late daughter in Vietnam

Sunday, June 09, 2019, 16:29 GMT+7
Japanese man returns to elementary school named for his late daughter in Vietnam
Hirotaro Takahashi gives his signature to students at Junko Elementary School in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam in May 2019. Photo: Doan Cuong / Tuoi Tre

A Japanese man has recently returned to the central Vietnamese province of Quang Nam for the first time in 10 years to visit an elementary school that is named for his late daughter.

Hirotaro Takahashi, who is now in his 70s, recently landed in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang in mid-May, before catching a ride to Dien Phuoc Commune in Quang Nam Province, which is about 22 kilometers away.

Takahashi was accompanied by Professor Tran Van Nam, former director of the University of Da Nang.

His car stopped at Junko Elementary School, named for his youngest daughter, Junko Takahashi, who passed away in a traffic accident at the age of 20.

“It’s been such a long time since you were here,” Le Quoc Ha, principal of the school, told the Japanese man.

Ha then took his Japanese guest to a special room at the school, where they keep Junko’s portrait to commemorate the young girl.

Takahashi lit a joss stick to pay his last respects, stating that the school brings him peace like no other place.

The man then visited the classrooms, library, and schoolyard, where three ‘sua’ trees, or Dalbergia tonkinensis, were planted 20 years ago to honor Junko.

Many young students at the school gathered around Takahashi and asked for his signature.

Hirotaro Takahashi pays respect to his late daughter, Junko Takahashi at the namesake school. Photo: Doan Cuong / Tuoi Tre

Hirotaro Takahashi pays his last respects to his late daughter, Junko Takahashi, at the namesake school in Quang Nam, Vietnam. Photo: Doan Cuong / Tuoi Tre

Junko Elementary School was built in December 1994 and first opened in September 1995.

Its construction cost about VND1 billion (US$43,000), which was funded by Junko's life insurance and bank deposit.

The story began in 1993 when Junko, a then-third-year university student, visited Vietnam to enjoy the country’s landscape, learn about its culture, and research Japanese investment in the Southeast Asian country.

After becoming aware of the lack of educational opportunities for children in low-income Vietnamese families, Junko returned to her hometown in Japan to formulate a plan to help poor children get the education they deserved.

Unfortunately, she passed away in an accident later that year, leaving her desire incomplete.

Following Junko’s passing, Takahashi and his wife decided to make her dream come true by funding a school in Quang Nam Province.

“I am truly happy and thankful to all the people who have helped us build such an amazing school,” the Japanese man said during his recent visit.

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