The national women’s soccer team received the People’s Honor Award Thursday in recognition of their victory at the Women’s World Cup in July in Germany.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan presented the award to team captain Homare Sawa, coach Norio Sasaki and 33 other players, coaches and staffers at his office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
“With firm teamwork and the spirit of never giving up, you accomplished a great achievement of becoming No. 1 in the world for the first time in the history of Japanese soccer,” Kan told the team. “To the disaster victims and all the people of Japan who are trying to recover from the Great East Japan Earthquake, you gave them the courage to face hardships and moved them with your eloquent” victory.
Every recipient also received a traditional Japanese makeup brush as a memento and a letter handwritten by Kan’s wife, Nobuko.
“What was written in the letter is a secret . . . but at the end, she wrote the same line to everyone, saying ‘Thank you for the world’s No. 1 impressive (victory),’ ” Sawa said.