Uganda Will Forever Remember Your Immense Contributions- UHRC’ Crispin Kaheru Commends Ambassador Fukuzawa’s Diplomatic Legacy

Uganda Will Forever Remember Your Immense Contributions- UHRC’ Crispin Kaheru Commends Ambassador Fukuzawa’s Diplomatic Legacy

By Crispin Kaheru

When you think of Ambassador Fukuzawa, it is hard not to think of a unique blend of humility and humor. He is the master of defusing tense situations with a well-timed, pokerfaced joke.

If you have had the privilege of meeting out-going Japanese Ambassador to Uganda, Fukuzawa Hidemoto during his impactful three-and-a-half-year tenure in Uganda from October 2020 to March 2024, you would understand precisely what I am talking about.

Fuku, as he is fondly known, is more than just a diplomat; he is a man on a mission. His mission in Uganda was clear-cut to uplift communities striving to make them not only smarter but also healthier and happier.

During his tour of duty, he brought smiles to countless faces, leaving a trail of positivity that stretched far and wide, from the eastern to the western and from the northern to the southern corners of Uganda.

Thanks to the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP), schools and health facilities received the much-needed boost in local communities nationwide.

Take, for instance, Ajoba Primary School, established in 2003 in Serere, Eastern Uganda. Before Japan’s intervention in 2022, the school faced a dire shortage of classrooms.

Students endured learning under trees or in makeshift structures. However, Japan stepped in and constructed a state-of-the-art three-classroom block along with two much-needed pit latrines.

This not only improved the learning environment for students and teachers but also brought significant relief to parents who no longer had to struggle with the laborious task of finding grass to make temporary classroom shelters that were often destroyed by winds and rains.

Over 285 grassroots projects of this kind span the country as a legacy of Japan in Uganda since 1992. Of these, approximately 25 stand out as shining examples of Fuku’s impact during his tenure, leaving behind a lasting heritage of heartfelt contributions built to withstand the test of time. Whether it is constructing simple classroom blocks, health center wards, laboratories, or even agricultural storage facilities, the hallmark of Japanese quality has remained distinctive.

Japan’s influence on Uganda’s skyline is tangible. The Kampala flyover, a symbol of Japan-Uganda cooperation, stands tall as a testament to collaborative efforts, poised to revolutionize transportation in the capital once fully opened.

Likewise, the iconic Source of the Nile Bridge in Jinja opened in 2018 serves as a vital artery, connecting landlocked Uganda to the rest of the world through the bustling Indian Ocean ports.

Throughout his tenure, one thing remained abundantly clear: Fuku stood steadfastly by Uganda’s side, lending unwavering support to various endeavors. Whether it was strengthening Uganda’s capacity to host refugees with dignity or spearheading initiatives to improve connectivity through road and bridge construction, Fuku served with unparalleled dedication and passion.

He put Uganda on the international map for the right reasons, even through seemingly small matters. Take, for instance, prior to Uganda’s participation in the 2022 Olympics in Tokyo, Fuku offered some cross-cultural advice to Uganda’s Olympic squad: “when the players finish a game, they should bow.” Why? Well, according to him, bowing is not just a Japanese greeting; it is a fundamental aspect of Japanese culture, a gesture of respect and gratitude. And lo and behold, our Ugandan athletes took heed of this advice, and it worked like a charm! That is just a glimpse of how much Uganda meant to him, whether in the small details or the grand scheme of things.

So, here’s to Fuku, the humble, humorous, hardworking and golf enthusiast. Uganda bids you farewell with a heavy heart, knowing that you will always hold a special place in our collective memory. Though your time with us was brief, the impact you have made will resonate for years and years to come, shaping Uganda’s future for the better.

Crispin Kaheru Is The Commissioner, Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) an accessible web community

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