FORMER Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa has been conferred Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.
The award is in recognition of his contributions to strengthening bilateral relations between Japan and Malaysia, especially in trade and tourism.
Wan Latiff said he first went to Japan in February 1988 to attend a two-year Asean tourism exchange programme hosted by the country’s Transport Ministry at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.
“During the summer holidays, I remember taking part in various programmes in different parts of Japan, including Hiroshima, Sapporo and Hakata.
“I really enjoyed being a student during my time there,” he said at the conferment ceremony which was held at the Japanese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Subsequently, Wan Latiff was made Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board director at its Tokyo office, from 1990 to 1995.
“My seven years in Japan helped me promote Malaysia’s culture and tourism to the Japanese.
“This period fostered my deep appreciation for both Malaysian and Japanese cultures,” he said in his speech after receiving the award from Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, Takahashi Katsuhiko.
When Wan Latiff was senior manager at Matrade, he established a Third Country Training Programme on Trade Development for Africa in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The training was provided by Malaysia to developing countries in Africa with financial, technical and operational support from Japan.
He said promoting the halal industry in Japan was another aspect he was passionate about.
“I remember inviting around seven large Japanese companies to Malaysia and briefing them on what halal meant.
“We have now witnessed the remarkable growth of the halal industry in Japan, with more than 200 halal-certified and Muslim-friendly eateries available there,” said Wan Latiff.