Brit envoy, three Japanese staff hailed for disaster efforts


British Ambassador to Japan David Warren and three Japanese employees of his embassy have been awarded New Year’s honors in recognition of their work after the March disasters and nuclear crisis, the U.K. Foreign Office said Saturday.

Warren was awarded a knighthood for his efforts and three drivers at the embassy in Tokyo, Tsuneo Ogata, Isamu Suzuki and Jun Yanagiya, have been appointed honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for their “exceptional service.”

“Everyone in Britain was horrified by the terrible disasters that affected Japan in March, and humbled by the courage and resilience that the Japanese people showed in their response,” Warren said in a statement.

“I had the great privilege of being part of a magnificent team, drawn from our diplomatic posts in Japan and from around the world, and including many people in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other organizations in the U.K. I am delighted that the team’s work is being recognized in this honors list,” he said.

The Foreign Office said Warren, who has been appointed Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, displayed “exceptional qualities of leadership and empathy” in the aftermath of the natural disasters, during which the embassy remained fully operational.

He and his team deployed to the affected zone within 40 hours of the March 11 disasters and helped with the evacuation of more than 80 people. Warren provided reassurance to many people and soon established himself as the public face of Britain’s response to the disasters.

The trio drove to the affected areas in “hazardous conditions” and “worked long hours in distressing circumstances” with Japanese relief agencies and consular staff to ensure that British nationals were accounted for despite the threat to their own safety, the statement said.

“The drivers displayed the highest standards throughout the crisis and worked together to provide an outstanding service at an extremely difficult time for themselves and their families. This commitment and sense of duty has continued with various fundraising efforts undertaken at their own initiative,” the Foreign Office said.