The Japanese embassy in Botswana has conferred Botswana’s former Ambassador to Japan, Oscar Motswagae the distinction of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Japan’s honour given by His Majesty Emperor Akihito to a foreign citizen who has been considered as a major contributor to Japan. In a conferment ceremony held in Gaborone by the embassy on Wednesday, Japanese ambassador to Botswana Masahiro Onishi said as the honour is awarded to foreign citizens who have promoted the cordial bilateral relationship between Japan and their own nations, Motswagae is awarded the honour due to his continuous dedication in strengthening the bilateral relationship between Japan and Botswana, especially during his time as Director of Asia and Africa Department, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and above all, Botswana’s Ambassador to Japan. He said since Motswagae took office in 2005, as Botswana’s second Ambassador to Japan, his contribution to strengthening the relationship between Botswana and Japan has become more pronounced. Some of his numerous contributions he said include dedicated efforts to the opening of the Japanese Embassy in Botswana. “And with his active efforts, in 2008, the Embassy of Japan in Botswana was established. As a result, the relationship between Botswana and Japan has been strengthened in increasing speed,” Onishi said.
The ambassador further lauded Motswagae for contributing to VIP exchange between Japan and Botswana, frequently giving a lecture at Japanese Universities to promote academic exchanges based on friendly relations, which led to the collaboration between Akita University and University of Botswana as well as BIUST. He was also actively involved in attracting Japanese companies to Botswana as well as introducing Botswana’s culture to Japan and promoting tourism from Japan. “In this way, Mr. Motswagae had a remarkable achievement in promoting Japan-Botswana friendly relations during his tenure as Ambassador to Japan, and deserves to this award given today. Also, even after he retired from the public service, he gave appropriate advice to Japanese delegations and past Japanese Ambassadors and me. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to that,” he said. Meanwhile Motswagae thanked the Japanese government and the embassy for what he termed ‘special award which means a lot him and his wife’. He said after assuming office as ambassador, he and his team saw great opportunity in helping Botswana come much closer to Japan and identified four areas that they believed offered low hanging fruits for stronger relations, namely, increased government-to-government cooperation; tourism; education; and the protection of the environment.
According to Motswagae, they also decided to make it their number one mission to ensure that Japan opened a resident Embassy in Gaborone and committed themselves to showcasing the very best of Botswana in order to demonstrate to the Japanese that they could not afford not to be in Botswana. He said apart from succeeding in getting the Japanese government to open an embassy in Botswana, most of his goals were attained pointing out the increased tourism relations between the two countries, Japan’s contribution to Botswana’s education industry such as a dramatic increase in the number of student exchanges and getting Botswana Ministry of Education to sponsor students to study at tertiary institutions in Japan.