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Former U.S. defense chief Leon Panetta among 136 to be decorated by Japan for efforts on improving relations

Kyodo

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian are among 136 people to be recognized in this year’s autumn decorations for notable contributions to relations with Japan, the government said Sunday.

The foreign recipients, hailing from 65 countries and Taiwan, include James Zumwalt, the former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Japan.

Panetta, 81, and Le Drian, 72, will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun. Zumwalt, 63, will be bestowed with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Of the 4,113 Japanese recipients, 1,967 — or 47.8 percent — are from the private sector, and 411, or 10 percent, are women, the highest such numbers and proportions since the honors system was reformed in 2003.

Former House of Councilors President Chuichi Date, 80, will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, the highest decoration to be awarded this year.

Former Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, 74, will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

Actor Akira Emoto, 71, will be given the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, and potter Hiroaki Morino, 85, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Some of the decorations will be conferred at the Imperial Palace on Thursday, with Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.

The emperor also on Sunday granted the Order of Culture, Japan’s top cultural award, to Akira Yoshino, 71, a winner of the this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry, and five other individuals during a ceremony held at the Imperial Palace.

“I hope you will do your best for the development of your respective areas,” the emperor said as he bestowed the order for the first time since ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1.

The five other recipients of the Order of Culture are kyogen actor Nomura Man, 89, political scientist Takeshi Sasaki, 77, photographer Takeyoshi Tanuma, 90, mathematical engineering scholar Shunichi Amari, 83, and immunologist Shimon Sakaguchi, 68.

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