Internationally recognized journalist and author Howard W. French was awarded an honorary doctorate Saturday in Tokyo in recognition of his years reporting on Asia as chief of The New York Times’ Tokyo and Shanghai bureaus.

The University of Maryland University College — which can accommodate more than 90,000 students worldwide through campus, overseas and online courses — bestowed the award during its 49th annual commencement ceremony for the Japan class held at the New Sanno Hotel.

In his keynote address, French urged the 90 graduates — more than half of them military personnel stationed in Japan — to apply their new skills to improving global human relations.

“Combat prejudice. Fight narrowness. Reject ethnocentricism. Reject the seductiveness of nationalism — which we Americans, too, are susceptible to under the cloak of what we call patriotism,” he said.

“This does not mean do not love your country,” added French, who was in Tokyo from 1999 until he moved to the Shanghai post in August 2003. “It means love everyone.”

The 47-year-old French, a Pulitzer Prize nominee whose 2004 book “A Continent for the Taking” — a searing analysis of centuries of exploitation of Africa — received broad acclaim, called the award his highest honor yet.

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