The Japanese government awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun to Abdelmalek Benhabyles, 91, the first Algerian ambassador to Japan, for his contributions in developing closer and deeper ties between the two countries.

The order was established in 1875 and features rays emerging from the sun. It has been awarded to citizens and non-Japanese nationals who have made distinguished achievements, such as in international relations.

A presentation ceremony was held Dec. 17 at the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Algiers, where Ambassador Tsukasa Kawada bestowed the order on Benhabyles.

Born in 1921, Benhabyles served as a representative of the National Front of Liberation (FLN) in Japan from 1958 to 1962. With Japanese supporters who sympathized with the Algerian struggle for independence from France, including parliamentarian Tokuma Utsunomiya (1906-2000), he created the Japan-Magreb Association (renamed the Japan-Algeria Association in 1981) to help promote the independence movement.

In October 1961, a delegation of Japanese parliamentarians led by former Finance Minister Tokutaro Kitamura (1886-1968) visited the camps of Algerian refugees in Morocco and Tunisia, and had the first historical contact with the Algerian provisional government (GPRA) in Tunis.

After the independence of Algeria in July 1962, Benhabyles worked as the first ambassador of independent Algeria to Japan from 1964 to 1966.

Later, he occupied several senior positions in Algeria, such as secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, secretary general of the presidency and president of the Algerian Constitutional Council.

“I am proud of this distinction given to our most eminent personality,” said the ninth Algerian ambassador to Japan, Sid Ali Ketrandji, whose father was a friend of Benhabyles. “I am sure that it will play an important role in deepening, developing and consolidating our friendship and relationship, which have huge potentials.”