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Autumn decorations conferred on U.S. political heavyweights might reflect “Abe administration’s views”

  • 2015-11-06 15:00:00
  • , Tokyo Shimbun
  • Translation

(Tokyo Shimbun: November 6, 2015 – p. 24)


 The names of the recipients of the autumn conferment of decorations in 2015 were announced on Nov. 3. The decorations were conferred not only on Japanese people but also on foreign nationals. In the past, (the late) Curtis Lemay, who commanded the firebombing of Tokyo and was involved in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, received a decoration. This year as well, U.S. political heavyweights were honored. We wonder why they were chosen.


 A total of 89 foreigners were honored. The fact that former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who is known as a “Japan handler,” and former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who led the Iraq War, received decorations has attracted attention. Both Armitage and Rumsfeld were included in the recipients of The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun because they “contributed to strengthening relations between Japan and the U.S. and to promoting friendship and goodwill.” The Order of the Rising Sun includes six ranks of decorations and the Grand Cordon of the Order of Rising Sun is the highest ranked decoration. Besides former cabinet members, Sankei Shimbun President Takehiko Kiyohara and former Tohoku Electric Power Co. President Keiichi Makuta were honored this year.


 According to the Cabinet Office, the Order of the Rising Sun was established in 1875 and the system of decorations for foreigners was set up in 1888. The decorations are conferred on state guests, ambassadors to Japan and individuals who have made outstanding contributions to friendship with Japan.


 When Japanese people are chosen as recipients, the heads of ministries and agencies recommend candidates and the recipients are chosen after going through examinations by the Decoration Bureau and following a cabinet decision.


 For foreign recipients, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collects information through overseas establishments and then decides on candidates and recommends them to the government.


 Over the past few years, the government conferred decorations on around 50 foreign nationals each in the spring and autumn conferment of decorations. This year, however, it honored some 80 foreigners in spring and autumn. A Decoration Bureau official said, “We want to actively praise individuals for their distinguished service and increase the number of such people. We hope to keep the present pace.”


 Ukeru Magosaki, former director general of the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau of MOFA, said, “In many cases, political intentions are involved in conferring decorations on foreign nationals,” while admitting the necessity of this. He also said: “I sense excessive consideration in the decision to give decorations to Armitage and Rumsfeld who have a strong influence over Japan. They are not viewed very favorably in the U.S. Internationally, they are thought of as strange.”


 For reference, then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato, a great-uncle of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, conferred the first Order of Merit with the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun on Lemay in 1964 because he “contributed to training the Self-Defense Forces. (Abridged)

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