The Foreign Ministry of Japan has announced that Sir John Major, the U.K. Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997, will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from Emperor Akihito. The highest honor to be given to foreign nationals, it is only awarded to those who have promoted international relations between Japan and their own nation. A ministry spokesman stated that Rt Hon John Major, KG CH is being recognized for his irreplaceable contributions, not only political and economic, but for the promotion of mutual understanding between the nations of Japan and the U.K. as well.
After Sir John Major was elected in 1990, he came to Japan as part of the Group of Seven summit in 1994, where he committed to make the two nation’s relationship stronger and more mature. Only a few months later, he returned to announce new business and academic initiatives, designed to encourage each nation, with the support of the Nikkeiren Economic Organization. The Foreign Ministry also stated that even after Major had retired from Parliament, he continued to focus on nurturing relations with Japan and on the importance of bilateral development in many different fields.
The former Prime Minister will be presented with the award from Emperor Akihito at the Japanese Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Major has told the U.K. press that it will be an incredible honor to have such an award bestowed upon him. The award originated in 1875, and features a design of sunlight rays emerging from the sun, as well as a red and white sash. Some of the previous people to receive the award include the 12th prime minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies; the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter; and Carol Bellamy, former UNICEF director. Also being honored along with Major is Sir Bobby Charlton for his contribution to cultural exchange between Japan and the U.K., and for the development of soccer in Japan. Charlton supported the bid for Japan to host the FIFA World Cup in 2002.