HIGHLIGHTS

  • As the new governor of the prefecture in 1951, he developed a master plan for the industrial estate, putting in proper area zoning, roads, canals and dams as well as the special schools to train farmers for new industries like dairying.
  • He personally lured investors and bankers to build the prefecture’s vision. Ten years after he assumed office, 20 companies had built up manufacturing plants on some 27.7 million square meters of reclaimed land.
  • His goal to double the prefecture’s per capita income was realized in five years, half the time he had aimed for.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his humanistic foresight in engineering rapid but orderly modernization, assuring well-being for the entire community.”

 CITATION

Now in his fourth term as governor, YUKIHARU MIKI over the past 13 years has led in transforming Japan’s Okayama Prefecture from a stagnant area relying on fishing and agriculture into an industrial miracle of modern Japan. While creating a major port and giant, bustling industrial estate from once muddy shallows along the Seto Inland Sea, he also cared for the people. Through creative planning there is now congenial living for citizens of Okayama as they shift from a rural to industrial economy. For those remaining on farms, modern methods and new pursuits—including dairying—have brought prosperity.

YUKIHARU MIKI first entered government service in 1938 as a medical doctor in charge of the Health Consultation Center of Okayama, where he was born in 1903. Later, as a senior official in the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Tokyo, he was the crusading author of Japan’s first Tuberculosis Prevention Law.

A political novice and a poor man, he was induced by friends, in 1951, to stand for election as governor of Okayama Prefecture. The resounding majority that swept him into office inaugurated a new chapter in Okayama’s history. Until then the prefecture had been by-passed by the postwar rush toward industrialization and reconstruction of Japan’s great cities. Although coastal areas were more prosperous from fishing, fertile rice land and commerce, inland Okayama was poor.

Mobilizing the skills and enthusiasm of the prefecture, Okayama’s new governor developed a master design for a new industrialized community with “sun, green and space.” In 1954, at the sleepy fishing village of Mizushima, dredges began sucking silt to create a deep-water channel and filling in shallow tidelands. Bulldozers carved off hills for rock fill. Dams and canals were built to insure an uninterrupted flow of fresh water for industrial use. Strictly zoned industrial, residential and recreation areas were linked by broad new roads. Special schools trained farmers for industry.

With a burning sincerity and vision that won hardheaded bankers, the governor floated bond issues and negotiated loans. He had spent US$55 million on the prefecture’s development before signing up the first big industrial clients in 1958. Industry was lured to Okayama by the governor’s personal, persistent visits to the headquarters of corporations throughout Japan. Today, 20 companies are manufacturing petroleum products, steel, chemicals, synthetic fibers, vegetable oils, marine engines, automobiles and heavy electrical equipment in plants erected on some 27.7 million square meters of reclaimed land. He aimed to double the prefecture’s per capita income in 10 years; the goal was realized in five.

While industry provides employment and income for a new way of living for 1.7 million inhabitants, Governor MIKI is equally concerned with health, education and better homes. New schools, care for the mentally retarded and aged, parks and sewage disposal plants, all have been provided. His administration and the great new metropolis emerging under his leadership give substance to the theme that was his choice: “Friendship, orderliness and service.”

In electing YUKIHARU MIKI to receive the 1964 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Board of Trustees recognizes his humanistic foresight in engineering rapid but orderly modernization, assuring well-being for the entire community.

 RESPONSE

It is a great privilege as well as an immense pleasure for me to come to Manila to accept the honorable Ramon Magsaysay Award. I am deeply moved with a sense of gratitude when I think of all the hospitalities you have extended to me to attend these presentation ceremonies. You have even provided me with the opportunity of visiting for the first time the famous “Land of the Morning” and “Pearl of the Sea of the Orient,” which I have long dreamed of seeing.

However, my joy is mixed with another sentiment. I venture to say that I entertain a lingering anxiety as to whether the scars of war that took place 20 years ago have completely healed. Among the guests attending this ceremony, I would not be surprised to find some people who had the misfortune of losing their relatives or property during the last war.

I am a physician and have devoted my whole life to the protection of human lives, but, when I think of the last war, I feel that being a member of the Japanese nation I share the responsibility for causing suffering to the people in the Philippines. Therefore, it was with a sense of guilt that I set foot on your soil. Perhaps to some people it was rather strange that I lacked the happy expression of a welcomed guest when I arrived.

It was indeed a happy surprise to me and my staff when we learned that our small prefecture in the western part of Japan had caught the attention of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. I must say with all humility that what I have done in the past 14 years as the governor of the Okayama Prefecture is very small.

During my governorship, your late President Ramon Magsaysay appeared with great prestige on the international horizon, and I already developed in those days a high esteem for his simple and humble personality. He inspired me with his conviction that all people had the right to live in peace and happiness and that one should devote his life for the rights of humanity. His “selfless devotion” to the crusade for the welfare of the people was what I tried hard to the best of my ability to live up to in my work as a public servant.

It was by a strange fortune that I left the field of public health to become a governor. Although my life has been marked by vicissitudes, one thing remains unchanged. I have always held to the belief that I belong to the common masses and what is most valuable in life is to serve the welfare of the public.

I am deeply touched this afternoon by your gesture of generosity in affording me the opportunity as the first Japanese to receive the Magsaysay Award.

In all sincerity, it is my feeling that your generous gesture is an expression of the magnanimity and friendship of the Filipino people who are trying to forget the past and to forge a new friendship with Japan. For such sentiment, I cannot find a proper word of appreciation.

I accept this Award for the five thousand members of my staff in the prefectural office who worked closely with me, as well as the members of the prefectural assembly who cooperated with me. Their devotion, dedication and ability have given the Prefecture of Okayama the public image that you are recognizing this afternoon. I, therefore, wish to express my sincere thanks on their behalf and on behalf of the Japanese people, who share my feeling of appreciation for this Award, to those who conferred this honor upon me.

 BIOGRAPHY

In succession doctor, public health official and four-term Governor of Okayama Prefecture, YUKIHARU MIKI was born on May 1, 1903 in Hataayu, Makiishi-son, Mitsu-gun, Okayama-ken in southwestern Honshu, the main island of Japan. The eldest son of Torakichi and Uta Miki, he took up lodging within the precinct of a temple when he entered middle school. Remembering the tranquility he found there in “listening to the breeze over the pine trees and chanting of sutras,” he still likes to hear these sounds and remains “deeply drawn to religion.”

After completion of the four year course at the Prefectural First Okayama Middle School in 1922, he majored in science at the National Sixth Higher School, graduating in 1925. His father, engaged in civil engineering and construction, died when MIKI was 21 years old. Thereafter living with his mother, brother and aunt—who had a small income—the young MIKI was able by frugality and giving private lessons to continue his education. A classmate recalls him as sensitive, friendly, keenly interested in discussing state affairs, and “because he always helped, anyone in trouble usually turned to him.” A hearty eater, his companions teased that he was classed 2-B in the Conscription Examination because he would consume too much of His Majesty’s valuable provisions.

Though his school record was good and he excelled in literary subjects, his poverty prevented him from going to university in Tokyo where all bright students aspired to study in those days. Instead, he entered Okayama Medical College and decided to specialize in bacteriology. His reason was confided to a fellow student: “A physician can treat one patient at a time but I wish to save many at a stroke.” After graduation in March 1929 he worked as assistant in the College Internal Medicine Room. His first patient was a consumptive and there were many cases of this disease for whom the only remedy then was pneumothorax, and sunshine, rest and nourishing food during recuperation. Since most tuberculosis victims neither lived in sunny rooms nor could afford to eat well, healing this disease seemed less the answer than preventing it. Turning his attention to problems of sanitation, the idealistic but practical physician determined to devote himself to public health. “As a doctor, I felt helpless to improve conditions; as a government servant I felt I could make connections in high places to get something done.”

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)