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Japanese gov't honors Taiwanese writer of Tanka poetry

TAIPEI -- The Japanese government on Wednesday decorated a Taiwanese writer of Tanka, a genre of classical Japanese poetry, in recognition of his efforts to promote bilateral cultural exchanges, at a ceremony in Taipei.

Tsai Kun-tsan received a citation from Japan's representative to Taiwan Sumio Tarui, and was later awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays, by Japan's deputy representative to Taiwan Izuru Hanaki.

Tarui praised Tsai's efforts over decades to promote Japanese culture in Taiwan and said he hopes the poet's group will continue to help increase understanding of Japanese poetry.

When Japan was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami in 2011, a Tanka group led by Tsai wrote a poem in memory of the victims and in support of Japan, Tarui said at the ceremony at the Taipei Office of Japan's Interchange Association.

In response, Tsai said he was honored and very grateful to receive such recognition.

Although he is in his late 80s, he said, there is still much for him to do and he will continue to promote exchanges between Taiwan and Japan.

Tsai is one of four Taiwanese being recognized by Japan this year for their contributions to promoting bilateral exchanges, according to the Interchange Association, which represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

The other three are Liao I-chiu, Wu Jin-pu and Cheng Cheng-hsiu, who have all made cultural or social contributions to the development of ties between Taiwan and Japan.

Liao, currently a fellow at Taiwan's top research institute Academia Sinica, will be granted the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of his efforts to promote bilateral exchanges in the aquaculture industry, the association said.

Wu is a Kendo master who has played a significant role in the development of that form of modern Japanese martial arts, which uses bamboo swords and protective armor. He has been teaching Kendo for about three decades, the association said.

Cheng, a Taiwanese living in Japan, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays, in recognition of his work of caring for Japanese children with disabilities for many years.

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