Japan will present the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of the country’s top honors, to a former U.S. senator for improving bilateral ties, the government said in announcing a list of 28 foreign nationals to be decorated this spring.

The Grand Cordon will go to William Roth Jr., a former chair of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, for his efforts to strengthen mutual understanding and relations between Japan and the U.S., the Cabinet Office said.

Roth, 79, will receive the highest honor awarded this spring to foreign nationals.

Roth and 27 others, including four women, are from 15 countries. Eight are from the U.S., three each from France and Germany, two each from Britain and Thailand and one each from Israel, Uruguay, Australia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, China, South Korea, Nepal, Hungary and Russia.

The second-highest accolade for foreign nationals this spring — the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star — will go to three people, including American David Abshire, vice chairman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C. think tank.

Abshire, 75, will be recognized for his contributions to Japan-U.S. ties and for deepening U.S. understanding of Japan.

The two others are Thai Phan Wannamethee, former secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat, and German Johannes-Friedrich Beseler, former European Union director general of trade.

Wannamethee, 77, has helped bring Japan closer to Thailand and ASEAN, while Beseler, 65, has done the same for ties between Japan and the EU, the office said. American Gordon Warner, an 88-year-old kendo expert, will receive the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Warner has contributed to promoting friendly relations through the sport and toward the promotion of education in Okinawa, where he lives.

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