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Japan confers prestigious decoration on Prof. Kusuma Karunaratne

The government of Japan announced the conferment of "The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon" upon Prof. Kusuma Karunaratne, Senior Professor, University of Colombo in recognition of her invaluable contributions to Japan-Sri Lanka relations.

The conferment ceremony took place on 2nd June 2005 at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador at Colombo 7, amidst a distinguished gathering of family, friends, academics and relations of Prof. Karunaratne. On behalf of His Majesty the Emperor, Akio Suda, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka presided over at the conferment ceremony and presented the prestigious decoration to Prof. Karunaratne.

A congratulatory message was sent by Nobutaka Machimura, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on April 29, 2005 upon the announcement stating: "Please accept my sincerest congratulations on the conferment, in recognition of your outstanding contribution, of "The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon", and may best wishes for your continued good health and happiness."

Prof. Karunaratne graduated from the University of Ceylon at the time in 1964, and soon after her graduation, she taught Sinhala language to Japanese students at the University of Ceylon.

In 1993, she first visited Japan on an invitation by the Japan Foundation Asia Centre to deliver the Takeshi Kailo Memorial Lecture Series in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka under the Asian Writers, Lecture series. In 1997 she was awarded the Japan Foundation Fellowship to the Taisho University and since then she has been closely associated with Japan through her untiring efforts to introduce Japanese literature to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan culture to Japanese students. She served in several leading Universities in Japan as a Guest Lecturer.

Apart from her achievements in the academic circles of Sri Lanka which culminated in her appointment as Acting Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo in recent years, she has played a very important role in Sri Lanka-Japan relations. She was closely associated with an outstanding Japanese scholar in Sinhala language, Tadashi Noguchi, and assisted him in writing books on Japanese culture, literature and language for the benefit of the Sinhala readers.

She was also instrumental in introducing the Master's Degree program in Japanese Studies at the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Colombo and served as the Co-ordinator of this program since its inception.

During this period she organized many Japanese cultural events at the University for the benefit of the students in her faculty thereby introducing the Japanese culture to Sri Lankan students. She translated Japanese short stories into Sinhala.

She has served as one of the key persons of the Sub-Committee of the Japan-Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund which honours Sri Lanka artists by presenting Bunka Awards annually.

She made a significant contribution as a member of the "Committee 2002" which was responsible for organizing the commemorative events of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Japan in the year 2002. She also addressed several seminars to commemorate the 50th anniversary.

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