Embassy of Japan
April 28, 2015
On April 29, 2015 (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2015 Spring Imperial Decorations. Among the 85 foreign recipients is House Democratic Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, in recognition of her significant contribution to strengthening and deepening the Japan-U.S. relationship through acts such as her historic visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as Speaker of the House, the highest-ranking sitting U.S. official to ever visit the site. Leader Pelosi’s conferral comes at a significant time for Japan-U.S. relations, as this year marks the 70th Anniversary of World War II.
From 2007 to 2011, Leader Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. She has been called “an extraordinary leader for the American people” by President Barack Obama, and after leading House Democrats for more than a decade, she is one of the most powerful women in U.S. politics.
Leader Pelosi was first elected to the U.S. Congress from California in 1987. During her 27 years on Capitol Hill, she has done a tremendous service to both the large Japanese-American community in her district and to Japanese-Americans across the country. Immediately after her election to Congress, Leader Pelosi co-sponsored the Civil Liberties Act, which addressed the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and presented the U.S. Government’s official apology along with offers of restitution to those who were interned. She also has helped to improve conditions for Japanese-Americans who served in the army during WWII, rebuild facilities for low-income people living in San Francisco’s Japantown, and support the activities of Japanese-American organizations.
In January 2007, Leader Pelosi officially began her term as Speaker of the House, an important position that ranks second in the U.S. presidential line of succession, just below the Vice President. Five months into her speakership, gathering an exceptionally distinguished lineup of attendees that consisted of bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate, she hosted the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe at a meeting during his 2007 visit to the United States.
Later that year, Leader Pelosi met with then Speaker of the Japanese House of Representatives, Mr. Yohei Kono, and received a consultation from him about the possibility of hosting the upcoming G8 Speakers’ Meeting at the site of the first atomic bombing in Hiroshima. According to an interview after the meeting, Speaker Kono had wanted to reach out to Leader Pelosi before contacting any of the other participating leaders, and he had been prepared to offer another location for the meeting in case she was hesitant. Despite criticism within the U.S. that could have resulted from such a visit, Leader Pelosi readily agreed to his idea. In September 2008, she made history as Speaker of the House by becoming the highest-ever sitting U.S. official to pay her respects at Hiroshima.
After the 2010 elections, Leader Pelosi returned to the position of House Democratic Leader and continues to have great influence as the Democratic Party’s highest ranking figure. Her visit to Hiroshima has remained an important event to Leader Pelosi, and it is still her driving force to work for developments in Japan-U.S. relations. Leader Pelosi still continues to make trips to Japan, as exemplified by her most recent visit with 9 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives this past April 2015 when she met with Prime Minister Abe.
Leader Pelosi’s conferral comes at a significant time for Japan-U.S. relations, as this year marks the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War II. At the end of the war, Japan embarked on a new path and has since attained its place in today’s international society by centering an alliance with its former enemy, the U.S. as a cornerstone. As Japan looks back on the war and its efforts as a nation of peace since then, the Government of Japan sincerely hopes that the conferral of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun on Leader Pelosi on this significant year will lead to further development and deepening of the Japan-U.S. relationship.
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