Japanese woman gives out money as 'apology' for war in Philippines

Illustration photo of a Philippines Peso note

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - It's not every day that you see a Japanese woman at a marketplace here and randomly handing out money to complete strangers.

Mariko Tsuchioka did just that on Tuesday afternoon at the Cogon Market - the city's busiest public market - and was mobbed, prompting village officials to escort her to the police station for her own safety.


Tsuchioka gave away Japanese yen of varying amounts - from P4,000 (S$101) to as much as P27,000 (S$686)  in its peso equivalent - and it wasn't just a random act of kindness, according to residents, who went home richer.

The 51-year-old resident of Hiroshima City had a noble purpose. She said she was fulfilling the wish of her grandfather, a Japanese soldier who fought Filipino guerrillas during World War II.

Rolando Masin, 39, one of the lucky beneficiaries, said Tsuchioka told them she was giving away her own money as a form of apology for the Japanese atrocities against Filipinos during the war.

Tsuchioka told Masin and the others that her grandfather served in the Japanese Imperial Army and saw action in the Philippines during the war, which left more than 1 million Filipinos dead, and Manila and other cities in ruins.

She offered no other details about her grandfather.

But her generosity left Masin, a tricycle "dispatcher" who went home richer by 10,000 yen or P4,771, and the others, grinning from ear to ear. After all, it's not every day that one is handed such huge amount by a stranger.

Tsuchioka gave away money from inside a "motorela," the city's version of the Philippine tricycle, and later, as she walked around the market on J.R. Borja Street.


She reportedly managed to hand out money to some 20 people before village officials whisked her away to the Cogon police station when the crowd around her swelled into a mob. Policemen later escorted her to her hotel.

PO1 Junelyn Cahig said she saw the Japanese around 2 p.m. and two hours later on Tuesday at the market, trailed by a large crowd of vendors, marketgoers and tricycle drivers.

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