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Masatoshi Koshiba, winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, and Kosaku Inaba, former chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be honored with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, the Cabinet office said in releasing the names of 4,301 men and 297 women in Japan on this year’s spring honors list.

The three other recipients of the Grand Cordon, the highest decoration awarded regularly by the government, are former trade minister Shinji Sato, 71; House of Representatives Vice Speaker Kozo Watanabe, 70; and Mitsuo Horiuchi, 73, head of the General Council of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Former Kobe Mayor Kazutoshi Sasayama, 78, will be honored with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, the second highest of the regular orders, for his leadership in rebuilding the city after it was devastated by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

Those bestowed with honors of the fourth rank and higher awarded regularly by the government will receive their medals from Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace on May 7. There are 15 ranks in the government honor system, with the top three honors reserved for recipients of extraordinary merits.

Actress Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, 71, known for her activities with UNICEF, will be honored with the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, the sixth-highest of the regular honors.

Veteran “manga” cartoonist Yoshiji Suzuki, 74, and composer Isao Tomita, 71, will be honored with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, the seventh-highest honor.

Of the 4,598 recipients, 1,603, or the highest ever, were chosen from nongovernmental sectors, following criticism that the government has hitherto favored people from the public sector.

The government awards the decorations in April and November. Starting this fall, the system will be simplified following criticism that the government categorizes people into too many ranks.

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