Japanese School Founder Yamamoto Dies at 94

PHNOM PENH – Muneo Yamamoto, the founder of a famous Japanese language school in Siem Reap, died on Oct.9 at the age of 94. He was known for his contribution to developing human resources in the tourism sector.

For citizens of Siem Reap, especially Japanese-speaking tourism operators, he was a hero for founding the Yamamoto Japanese Language Education Center and JHC Angkor Tours.

Yamamoto founded the center in 1996 at his own expense, based on the Social Contribution Support Foundation. He had the goal of "deepening the friendship between Cambodia and Japan so that Japanese tourists can work and achieve economic independence for Cambodians to help rebuild the country, which had been exhausted by the long civil war."

Students can get free Japanese lessons and graduates use their Japanese skills as tour guides and hotel workers.

In 2013, Yamamoto received the “Social Contributor Award” at the 25th Social Contributor Award ceremony arranged by the Social Contribution Support Foundation.

“I have a role like today because of Yamamoto”, said Oddar Meanchey police commissioner Huot Sothy.

Sothy is a former student in the 2nd generation of the center and expressed his condolences and gratitude to Yamamoto.

He said he had become what he was now because of Yamamoto who was an amazing Japanese philanthropist who used his own money to help students in Siem Reap and raised money for the school building fund.

Sothy said he wanted to preserve and pass on the memory of Yamamoto’s reputation to the next generation.

Seang Nam, a Member of Parliament in Siem Reap​ who has known Yamamoto since 1995, said Yamamoto's death is the loss of a great philanthropist and an important human resource who had helped the Cambodian people, especially in Siem Reap.

He said the center had contributed to developing human resources in the field of Japanese language teachers, tour guides, tour company staff and translators. Its learning certificate is acknowledged by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.

“Yamamoto also helped provide wells for the people, build primary schools, and give food and money to the poor in remote rural areas,” said Nam.

Yamamoto's funeral will be held in the Buddhist tradition at the JHC headquarters in Krous village, next to National Road 6. His body will be cremated on the evening of Oct.13.


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this article was translated by Chhuon Kongieng for Cambodianess.

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