• Kyodo

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The government said Friday it will bestow decorations on a record 149 foreign nationals this fall — including former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — as well as 4,103 Japanese for their achievements across a wide variety of fields.

Gates, 74, joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional before serving as defense secretary from December 2006 to July 2011 under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Obama was the eighth president Gates served.

Rice, 62, became the first African-American woman to serve as secretary of state when she assumed office on January 2005 under George W. Bush. She served for four years until January 2009.

Both former U.S. officials will be decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest order in this fall’s commendations.

Former popular masked wrestler Richard Beyer, 87, known in the ring as “the Destroyer,” will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.

In all, foreign nationals from 63 countries and regions will be recognized.

Among Japanese recipients, Wataru Aso, 78, a former Fukuoka governor who also served as president of the National Governors’ Association, was named as a recipient of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with four other recipients.

Of the Japanese recipients, 381 (9.3 percent) were women, and 1,903 (46.4 percent) were from the private sector, the highest number since the decoration system was reformed in 2003.

Comedian and actor Kon Omura, 86 — whose real name is Mutsuji Okamura — and composer Shigeaki Saegusa, 75, will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.

Photographer Eiko Hosoe, 84 — whose real name is Toshihiro Hosoe — will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

The award ceremony will be held at the Imperial Palace on Nov. 7 with Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.

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