The government said Tuesday that it will present the Prime Minister’s Award to golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who won the 2021 Masters to become the first Japanese to claim one of the men’s four major professional golf championships.
Matsuyama has been encouraging people in areas affected by the March 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami and “gave them great courage again with his victory” 10 years after the catastrophe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.
Matsuyama, 29, will receive the award on Friday at the prime minister’s office, becoming the 34th individual recipient.
So far, the award has been granted to 49 individuals and groups, including the project team of the Hayabusa2 unmanned asteroid probe of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which won the recognition in 2020, and Takuma Sato, who became the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2017.
Kato noted that Matsuyama participated in the 2011 Masters, held right after the disaster, when he was a student at Sendai’s Tohoku Fukushi University in one of the hardest-hit prefectures in northeastern Japan, and won low-amateur honors — the first such achievement by a Japanese golfer.
Soon after Matsuyama won the 2021 Masters, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, “Amid the prolonged coronavirus crisis, he gave courage to and touched the hearts of everyone across Japan.”
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