Translated from article in Yomiuri America, August 11, 2000.

Four Individuals and Four Organizations Receive Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation


To Takaoka, Who Has Coordinated the Giving of 1,000 Friendship Dolls to 354 Schools in 50 States

Four individuals and four organizations in the US were awarded with this year's Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation. Michiko Takaoka (68 years old), Director of the Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute Japanese Cultural Center (Spokane, Washington), received this year's Foreign Minister's Commendation. She has been carrying out Japan-America cultural exchange by continuing to coordinate gifts of Japanese dolls to American elementary schools, libraries, and museums. On August 4th, Yoshio Nomoto, Seattle's Consul General, gave the commendation to her.

Mrs. Takaoka receives Commendation Certificate from Consul General Nomoto

The school opened in September 1990 as a branch campus of Mukogawa Women's College in Nishimiya City located in Hyogo Prefecture. She has been the successor to the spirit of the Japan-America doll exchanges of the "Blue-eyed Dolls" and "Friendship Dolls" of 1927. She started a movement that has given Friendship Dolls to American children since 1992.

Up to now the Friendship Doll Program has been involved in giving over 1,000 Japanese dolls to 354 schools in all fifty states and Washington, D.C.

In 1992, the location of 26 of the 58 Friendship Dolls given to the US had been confirmed, but by Mrs. Takaoka's investigative efforts over the past eight years the whereabouts of 44 dolls has been confirmed.

Every March a Doll Festival is held where over 500 local townspeople, elementary school students, and educators are invited, and they gather around the Friendship Doll Miss Tokushima who is stored at the local Cheney Cowles Museum (now known as Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture). It is an event to look back on both the bright and dark sides of the history of Japanese-American relations and the goodwill message entrusted to the dolls 73 years ago.

Mrs. Takaoka, who had an opportunity to study in the US through an American government scholarship, said, "I am very happy to realize what I have wanted to do for many years to someday thank the American people. I think that it is a commendation to both Japanese and American people who have kindly supported the doll exchange activities."

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