• Kyodo

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Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Tuesday that five Japanese will be honored with the Order of Australia next week for their role in enhancing relations between Australia and Japan.

“These awards reflect the depth of the bilateral relationship and especially the strong links that exist between the people of Japan and the people of Australia,” Howard said in a statement.

Takashi Imai, Nippon Steel Corp.’s honorary chairman and Japan-Australia Business Cooperation Committee chairman, and Minoru Murofushi, Itochu Corp. chairman and the bilateral committee’s vice chairman, will be appointed Australia’s highest accolade, the Honorary Companion, for their service to Australia-Japan business relations.

The three others are Japan Center for International Exchange President Tadashi Yamamoto, history author Masako Endo and Shunsuke Takahashi, physical culture professor at Komazawa University in Tokyo. and a Japan Karate Association of Australia chief instructor.

For her writing on the history of Australian-Japanese relations, history author Masako Endo will be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, as will Shunsuke Takahashi, physical culture professor at Komazawa University in Tokyo and a Japan Karate Association of Australia chief instructor, for his service to karate.

Howard will present the recipients with their honors at a ceremony in Japan.

“I am delighted that my visit to Tokyo next week will allow me the opportunity to personally present these awards,” he said.

The prime minister will spend three days in Japan starting July 15 on a regional tour that includes visits to South Korea and the Philippines.