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Lebanon bids farewell to Japanese ambassador Okubo

Japanese ambassador to Lebanon, Okubo Takeshi, in front of an “ I Love Beirut” sign in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (Twitter/@TakeshiOkubo3)
Japanese ambassador to Lebanon, Okubo Takeshi, in front of an “ I Love Beirut” sign in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (Twitter/@TakeshiOkubo3)
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29 Nov 2022 04:11:02 GMT9
29 Nov 2022 04:11:02 GMT9

Carla Chahrour

The Japanese ambassador to Lebanon,  OKUBO Takeshi, shared a farewell letter to the people of Lebanon as his three-year term in the Mediterranean nation came to an end this month.

“My last letter from Lebanon. I thank everyone for their love and support for me in the past three years. I do not find words that can express my love and admiration for this country. As Gibran Khalil Gibran described farewell, I also feel that “love knows its depth only at the hour of separation.” I will miss your Lebanon so much,” Okubo said in a tweet, which was posted along with a photo of himself in front of an “ I Love Beirut” sign in downtown Beirut.

Okubo departs amid delays in electing a successor to former president Michel Aoun and as the struggling nation balances on the grip of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. Three-quarters of its population has plunged into poverty, and the Lebanese pound lost over 90% of its value against the U.S. dollar. 

Over the course of his tenure in Lebanon, Okubo became recognized as an instrumental force in offering solutions for a plethora of public issues through the representation of Japanese interests in the country, the implementation of projects funded by the Japanese government, and perhaps most importantly, his social participation within the community. 

Having witnessed the downward spiral of struggles that the country has had to endure since 2019, which includes the economic meltdown, waves of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, shortages of food, fuel, electricity and medicine, and the Beirut Port explosion, which killed more than 200 people and exacerbated the compounded crises, Okubo aided in the strengthening of Japan’s relationship with Lebanon through offering a combination of public intervention and strategic projects aimed at alleviating the repercussions of the socio-economic crisis.

In a state that has failed to ensure its people with the most basic services, Japan has confirmed its commitment to stand by the people of Lebanon by the provision of several grants through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Program (GGP) for projects directed by Okubo that contributed towards the development of several sectors. Such projects include the implementation of multi-sectoral renovation projects, the provision medical equipment that contributed to the rehabilitation of Lebanon’s health sector and reduction of  disparities in health care, the provision of alternative power sources that aided in bridging the gap in the state’s lack of power supply due fuel shortages, poverty alleviation through helping in the maintenance of food security, and even aiding the development of the agricultural sector, amongst others.

With his influence, charisma and simple yet powerful discourse, he was able to conquer the hearts of the locals, who continuously showed their admiration towards him, his work, and Japan. 

This is made particularly evident in farewell messages praising the ambassador for his service that have been shared by Okubo’s friends and associates on social media after learning about his departure.

Ricardo Karam, a Lebanese television presenter, bade the ambassador farewell on Twitter and praised him for his ability to increase the bilateral ties with Lebanon.

“Some impose barriers and deepen differences, and some build bridges and promote values in the country in which they serve. The Japanese ambassador leaves Lebanon and leaves a void in our diaries. Thank you, Ambassador, for your love for my country, for your respect for its diversity, and for your friendship with its various segments,” he said in a tweet, which was accompanied by a photo of the two together.

Jamal Fayad, a Lebanese journalist, also praised the ambassador in a farewell message, where he thanked him for everything he has done for the country, highlighting that his impact on the nation’s people will be spoken about for generations to come.

“We will tell our children and grandchildren about you, that a wonderful man was an ambassador for his country in the time of ordeal, so he gave with love all his love…and that in Japan there are men of goodness, truth, virtue, and humanity, who carry its fragrance wherever they go, and spread it in cities, fields, orchards, and homes for free!”

The post received additional messages from Lebanese people on Twitter, who praised the ambassador for his service to Lebanon during difficult periods, wished him well, and hoped that he would one day return.

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