Satoshi Oyama had a bright future ahead of him as a diplomat, but his life was cut short at the age of 39 in a senseless stabbing attack in Kawasaki outside Tokyo last month.

The outpouring of grief, not just in Japan but also in Myanmar, where he was posted for three years, spoke volumes about his talent and character as well as the deep regard with which he was held in the Southeast Asian nation.

Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of Myanmar, wrote in a message of condolence to Oyama's widow via the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo that she was "really shocked and saddened" to learn of his death.

Suu Kyi went on to cite Oyama’s exceptional interpreting skills and warm personality. She recalled her visit to Japan in April 2013 as Myanmar's main opposition leader and how he "impressed us all with his linguistic skills as well as his gentle, friendly nature.”

After learning the language of Myanmar at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Oyama joined the Foreign Ministry in 2004.

He was dispatched to Myanmar for intensive language study for two years or so the following year and stayed for three more years to serve at the Japanese Embassy in Myanmar.

Upon his return to Japan, he served as an interpreter on many occasions, including ministerial meetings.

“Japan has lost a good diplomat who made a valuable contribution to the friendship between our countries,” Suu Kyi said.

Myanmarese singer Zaw Win Htut recalled a charming anecdote about Oyama after they were introduced by a mutual acquaintance and became close friends around 2006.

Oyama was still immersed in language studies at the time. The pair shared a personal chemistry and would frequently have dinner and sing popular songs together almost every weekend.

Observing his friend's involvement in collecting donations or doing volunteer work despite a busy schedule, Zaw Win Htut, 55, asked Oyama in a humorous tone: “Why are you working for our country that hard? What do you want?”

Oyama replied with the Japanese phrase “Nani mo Iranai,” meaning “I do not want anything.”

Zaw Win Htut, who lives in Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, was deeply impressed by Oyama's devotion.

“Oyama meant that he did not need any return for his efforts to cooperate with Myanmar’s development,” Zaw Win Htut said.

Another Myanmarese friend of Oyama who lives in Japan posted a commemorative message for him on Facebook, which was shared by more than 2,000 users within a week. Someone in Myanmar posted the following reply: “Oyama was a person who worked for Myanmar.”

Kyaw Nynt, 73, who taught Oyama his Myanmar language skills in Yangon between 2005 and 2006, recalled that Oyama wore traditional Myanmar attire when they first met.

“Oyama had a mind to respect others,” Kyaw Nynt said.

He often asked Kyaw Nynt, “What can I do for the development of Myanmar?”

Oyama was clearly keen to help lift impoverished people in Myanmar out of their circumstances, according to Kyaw Nynt.

Myanmar was governed by generals until 2011, when power was transferred to civilian rule after years of economic sanctions by the United States and Europe sapped the country's economy.

“While the rest of the world gave Myanmar the cold shoulder, Oyama fretted about Myanmar and threw himself into trying to help the country. Now that economic sanctions have been lifted, Oyama's tremendous ability should now have come to the fore,” Kyaw Nynt said with regret.

“I am (immersed in) Myanmar, which will continue to account for half of my life. There is a string of fate that connects Myanmar and me,” Oyama told a reporter during an interview in late 2016.

Given the high percentage of young people in Myanmar's population, the country is expected to prosper. Among Japanese, it is regarded as the last frontier in Asia, meaning that the country offers profitable investment opportunities.

With regard to relations between Japan and Myanmar, Oyama was fond of saying that time flows differently in Myanmar.

He said his goal was to help create a lasting relationship that benefits both sides, rather than Myanmar relying on unilateral support.

Oyama was one of 10 or so Foreign Ministry staffers sufficiently skilled in the Myanmar language to serve as an interpreter, according to an official. Oyama was regarded as one of the most proficient, although he originally was not particularly interested in learning the language.

He decided to study to become an interpreter while he was in college, shyly explaining that his girlfriend at the time was in a lower academic year and aspired to become a trusted interpreter for the Foreign Ministry.

“She is now my wife,” Oyama added.

She accompanied her husband to Myanmar because she had an extensive network of connections there that could help him. He was eternally grateful.

The couple’s first daughter was born in Myanmar, which is also where the family spent vacations.

Oyama and an 11-year-old girl were killed when 51-year-old Ryuichi Iwasaki went on a stabbing rampage that targeted pupils of Caritas Elementary School, a private school in Kawasaki’s Tama Ward, on May 28. Oyama was at a bus stop to see off his daughters.

Iwasaki fatally stabbed himself at the scene.

(This article was written by Ryuta Sometaya, Yangon correspondent, and Hajimu Takeda, Seoul correspondent.)