Yuya Yagira, the 14-year-old named best actor at this year's Cannes Film Festival, received a Japanese government award Wednesday for his performance in the movie "Nobody Knows."

Takeo Kawamura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, awarded Yagira with a commendation certificate at a ceremony held at the ministry.

"He won the Cannes prize for his superb acting, realizing the director's ideas. The Cannes award was also epoch-making in the sense that the quality of Japanese movies today was commended," the ministry said in a statement.

Yagira, who began acting two years ago, is the youngest person ever to receive the best actor award at Cannes. "Nobody Knows" was his first movie.

In the film, Yagira played the eldest of four siblings who must take charge of the family when their mother abandons them.

The movie, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, opened here in July and has earned critical acclaim.

Yagira was also the youngest to be so honored by the education minister. The past recipients, 16 of them since 1998, include playwright Sugako Hashida and 97-year-old dancer Kazuo Ono.