Emperor Akihito conferred this year’s Order of Culture on five recipients Monday, including former U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata.
Ogata was cited for her accomplishments in politics and international relations. She attended the ceremony at the Imperial Palace on the national Culture Day holiday Monday to receive Japan’s most prestigious honor in the field of culture and science, along with three others.
One of the honorees, Japanese-style painter Matazo Kayama, was absent from the ceremony due to illness.
The three other recipients of the Order of Culture were poet-cum-literary critic Makoto Ooka, particle physicist Kazuhiko Nishijima and pathologist Wataru Mori.
Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Mori, 77, said they are determined to keep contributing to their respective fields.
The Emperor said he hopes they will continue to do so.
After the ceremony, Ogata told reporters that she was surprised to receive the award but feels very encouraged by it to do more.
A total of 38 non-Japanese and more than 4,000 Japanese will be decorated this fall for their contributions to Japan and Japanese society, according to a list of award recipients released Monday.
Of them, American George Olah, who won the 1994 Nobel Prize in chemistry, former British Ambassador to Japan Sydney Giffard and nine Japanese will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
Olah, 76, a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California, will be honored for his contribution to exchanges between Japanese and American academics. Giffard, 77, was chosen for his study and understanding of Japan.
The nine Japanese recipients of the nation’s highest order include former Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Chikage Ogi, 70.
They also include former management agency head Kunihiro Tsuzuki, 73, and House of Councilors Vice President Shoji Motooka, 72. Former Nissan Motor Co. President Yoshifumi Tsuji is one of the three recipients from the private sector.
The 38 foreign honorees, including two women, represent 19 countries. Nine come from the United States, three each from Britain, Canada, France and Germany, two each from Belgium, Brazil and Sri Lanka, and one each from Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Venezuela.