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Japan on Monday announced the foreign recipients of its biannual awards, honoring 32 people from 19 countries, with Icelandic and Luxembourg nationals appearing on the list for the first time.

The fourth-highest Grand Cordon of the Sacred Treasure went to former head of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce Henri Charles Ahlborn, 68, for his contribution to enhancing economic relations between Japan and Luxembourg.

Former Syrian Culture Minister Najah Al-Attar, 68, was awarded the same decoration for her contribution to boosting Japan-Syria ties in academic and cultural fields.

The two received the highest honors awarded this spring to foreign nationals.

The Japanese government also awarded former executive of the Icelandic central bank Olafur Bjornsson Thors, 64, the seventh-highest Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for helping Japanese nationals in Iceland as an honorary consul general designated by Tokyo.

Former member of the British House of Lords Michael John Hare Blakenham, 64, and former Polish Ambassador to Japan Henryk Lipszyc, 60, were presented with the fifth-highest Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, each for boosting cultural ties between Japan and their homelands.

Nine other recipients are from the United States, while Canada, Chile, France, Germany and Italy have two each, and Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Norway, Peru, South Korea and Thailand have one each.

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