• Kyodo News


The Japanese national baseball team that won the World Baseball Classic last month has been named among 24 groups and 704 individuals to be honored in the government’s spring decorations for their contributions in various fields.

The team will be awarded a Medal with Purple Ribbon, given in recognition of contributions to sports, arts or academia, when the government officially issues this spring’s Medals of Honor on Wednesday.

Japan’s baseball squad, coached by Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, successfully defended the title the country won in the inaugural WBC tournament three years ago. In this year’s final, Japan beat South Korea 5-3 in extra innings in Los Angeles on March 23.

Twenty-three others, all individuals, have been selected for the Medal with Purple Ribbon, including actress Keiko Matsuzaka, 56, kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro, 53, and 63-year-old novelist Nobuko Takagi, a winner of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize.

Teruo Okano, 60, a Tokyo Women’s Medical University professor known for his work on tissue engineering in biomedicine, has also been chosen for the medal.

Actor Ryotaro Sugi, 64, has been named for the Medal with Purple Ribbon a year after being honored with a Medal with Green Ribbon for supporting inmate rehabilitation, having visited prisons for more than a decade.

This spring, the government is honoring 16 individuals as well as 22 groups with the Medal with Green Ribbon in recognition of their contributions to social work.

Among them is Akio Kanai, 66, chairman of a Sapporo-based eyeglass chain who has been providing glasses to foreign refugees free of charge for more than 25 years.

The Medal with Blue Ribbon, given in recognition of efforts in advancing the public good, is going to 433 individuals, including Kentaro Oyama, 63, president of Sendai-based home equipment company Iris Ohyama, who helped develop the local economy.

Among other honorees is Tsugio Sakamoto, named to receive the Medal with Yellow Ribbon with 224 others in recognition of their professional devotion and dedication. Sakamoto, 68, is known for his ingenious work in processing rare metals and some of the goods he handled were used by the late Emperor Hirohito and the pope.

The Medal with Red Ribbon, awarded to those who have contributed to saving lives, is being given to seven people and a group, including 18-year-old Ryo Sunayama, a resident of the city of Niigata who rescued a woman from a river last November.

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