A Symbol of Vietnam and Japan’s Friendship: Junko Primary School

Dien Ban town in Quang Nam province has a unique school – Junko Primary School, named in honor of a Japanese girl, Junko Takahashi, residing in the Dien Phuoc commune.

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Junko Primary School - Testament to Vietnam and Japan's Friendship
Junko Elementary School inaugurated the Junko relief work in March 2023.

Sharing with the Vietnam Times, teacher Tra Van Nhi, principal of Junko Primary School is quite proud of Junko Takahashi, a student at the Department of International Relations, Meiji Gakuin University (Japan).

In 1993, at the age of 20, during summer vacation, Junko and a group of friends went to Vietnam to learn, research and collect materials to serve for the thesis with the topic “Economic Development and Foreign Direct Investment in Southeast Asia”.

Junko Primary School - Testament to Vietnam and Japan's Friendship
Junko Primary School student receives scholarships from the Junko Association.

Coming to Quang Nam, Da Nang, Junko wished that, after graduating from school, she would return to Vietnam to work and spend her salary to build a school for the children here. Junko’s cherished plans had to be shelved on December 9, 1993, when a traffic accident in Japan claimed her life.

All of Junko’s plans may be unfinished. However, during the funeral, her parents, Horotaro Takahashi, read their daughter’s dream in the diary. They decided to fulfill this wish.

Horotaro Takahashi’s family collected the money from the funeral, insurance claims and Junko’s savings totaling US$100,000 (more than VND1 billion) and then went to Vietnam, choosing Dien Phuoc commune (Dien Ban town) to build a school with 8 rooms, a gymnasium and a toilet. In 1995, the school was officially inaugurated.

Because of Junko, teachers and students of many universities in Japan established Junko Association, to continue her unfinished mission.

Since then, every year until the opening day of school, students of Junko Association come to give hundreds of scholarships to poor students who overcome difficulties, and study well in Quang Nam.

Junko Association also cooperates with students of the University of Danang to organize many exchange activities with students of Junko Primary School, and schools in Dien Phuoc commune.

Hashimoto Tamami, a representative of the Junko Association said, “We are students from Meiji Gakuin University, where Takahashi Junko studied. We are here to continue Junko’s wish for Vietnam.

Junko Association is proud to have always been attached to Junko Primary School teachers and students and the people of Dien Phuoc for the past 28 years. In Japan, the members of the Junko Association always remember the school and the students, making efforts to introduce activities about Vietnam, and raise funds. We will come here and continue activities to bring Vietnam and Japan closer together”.

According to a representative of the Junko Association, Junko’s parents are now old and weak, unable to come to Vietnam. However, on the opening of the school year every year, they send letters to the school’s students, encouraging them to work hard and study well. They also thank the students, teachers, and Vietnamese friends for preserving and developing the school.

According to Principal Tra Van Nhi, currently, Junko Primary School has an area of ​​nearly 8,000 m2 with 25 classrooms and 15 function rooms. Up to now, more than 20,000 students have been trained and grown up at this school.

“The school takes December 9, the day of Junko’s death, as the Traditional Day. On this day, we organize many activities such as writing letters, and drawing pictures to Junko’s parents and Junko Association to express our gratitude to them. We also organize contests for students to learn about Japanese culture,” said Principal Nhi.

Teramoto Eri, Consul of the Department of Economy-Culture and Information (Consul General of Japan in Da Nang) said, “Junko Primary School is a testament to the friendship between Japan and Vietnam and also the hope of the future.

We hope that the younger generation, who will shoulder Japan-Vietnam relations in the future, will grow up and continue to inherit Junko’s thought.”

Rosie Nguyen