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Ken Zaifman (right), who is Japan’s consul in Winnipeg, with Japan’s consul general in Calgary, Shigenobu Kobayashi

By MYRON LOVE
On Thursday, June 6, Ken Zaifman was presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan’s highest civilian honour. Previous honorees have included fellow Winnipegger, the late Albert Cohen (in 2009), movie star Clint Eastwood (2011), General Douglas McArthur, John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

 

 

 

 

 

The award was presented to Zaifman at the long time Winnipeg immigration lawyer’s home in the presence of about 125 relative, friends and dignitaries including Lieutenant-Governor Janice Filmon and her husband, Gary, The Honourable Cathy Cox (Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage), representing the Provincial Government, and City Councillor and Deputy Mayor Markus Chambers.
“This was quite unexpected,” Zaifman says. “I am quite honoured considering the history of the award.”
The Order of the Rising Sun, he explains, was created by the Emperor of Japan in 1875. The badge features rays of sunlight from the rising sun. The design of the Rising Sun symbolizes energy as powerful as the rising sun in parallel with the “rising sun” concept of Japan - the Land of the Rising Sun.
The order is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture (Zaifman’s entry), advancements in their field, development in welfare or preservation of the environment.
For the past ten years, Ken Zaifman has been the representative of the Government of Japan in Manitoba. “The Government of Japan was looking for someone to serve as their consul here,” he recalls. “My name was put forward. Over 30 years in practice, I have gained some familiarity with international issues and affairs. It seemed to be a worthwhile endeavour.”
As consul, Zaifman represents the Japanese Government at cultural events. He helps to facilitate student exchanges and business dealings and hosts visiting Japanese dignitaries – one such being a visit by the Japanese Ambassador to Canada to meet with government and business leaders in Winnipeg.
He reports that there is a lot of trade between Manitoba and Japan. “Japan imports a lot of processed hogs and a lot of grain from Manitoba,” he notes. “There are very strong ties between our province and Japan.”
In October, 2017, Zaifman participated with a group of honorary Consul Generals in a mission to Japan. “We met with government officials and toured much of the country,” he recalls.
He estimates that the Japanese community in Winnipeg numbers 4,000-5,000 and is very active.
“I have learned a lot about Japan,” he says.
Zaifman reports that the position of Honorary Consul is a term position of five years. He says that he has recently been renewed for a third five-year term.

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