750 people, record 19 groups to receive Medals of Honor

Kyodo News

The government will issue Medals of Honor to 750 individuals and a record-high 19 organizations Friday, including “rakugo” comic storyteller and writer Katsura Sanshi, and the operator of a Tokyo inn popular with foreign visitors, government officials said Thursday.

A total of 21 people, including Katsura, 63, and Osaka University professor emeritus Yuji Matsuzawa, 65, who came up with the concept of metabolic syndrome, have been chosen for the Medal with Purple Ribbon for contributions to the arts, academics and sports.

Pop songwriter Yoko Aki, 61, actor Masahiko Tsugawa, 66, film director Kohei Oguri, 61, and novelist Masamitsu Miyagitani, 61, who is known for his books set in ancient China, will also be awarded the medal.

Among the 437 to receive the Medal with Blue Ribbon, given to those who have contributed to public welfare, are Isao Sawa, 69, who has been recognized for his contribution to tourism promotion by welcoming foreign visitors to his Japanese-style inn Sawanoya in Tokyo, and Hiromu Ikeda, 57, chairman of J. League soccer club Albirex Niigata.

The Medal with Yellow Ribbon, given in recognition of perseverance in their work, will be issued to 271 people, including Kazuo Yairi, 74, who has made guitars for more than 55 years for musicians, including Paul McCartney and Keisuke Kuwata.

Organizations to be given the Medal with Green Ribbon for contributions to social services include Nagasaka Kinyokai, a volunteer group in Yamanashi Prefecture that has been folding diapers at a nursing home for 26 years.

The number of organizations awarded the Medal with Green Ribbon more than doubled compared with the eight recognized in the spring ceremony.

The youngest is 39-year-old grinder Shinji Kawana, who helped create the world’s smallest ball bearings, contributing to the miniaturization of electronic devices.