Embassy of Japan
November 3, 2013
On November 3, 2013 (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2013 Autumn Imperial Decorations. Among the 49 foreign recipients is Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, who will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his significant contributions to strengthening and promoting both the economic relationship and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.
Senator Rockefeller studied at Tokyo’s International Christian University from 1957-1960, and graduated from Harvard University in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree in Asian Languages and History. After college, Senator Rockefeller joined the Peace Corps during the John F. Kennedy administration where he served as an assistant to then-Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver. Following the Peace Corps, Senator Rockefeller became a VISTA volunteer in the small mining community of Emmons, located in southern West Virginia. Senator Rockefeller’s service in Emmons would cement his relationship with West Virginia, and also his life-long commitment to public service and mission to improve the lives of West Virginians and all Americans.
Senator Rockefeller was first elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1967 and went on to serve in a series of positions in state government, including as West Virginia’s Secretary of State, Governor of West Virginia, and in 1984, he was elected to serve five successful terms in the U.S. Senate. In the Senate, he has served in various leadership positions including as the former Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence and, currently, Rockefeller serves as the Chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Throughout his tenure as Governor to his time in the Senate, Senator Rockefeller has been dedicated to creating and strengthening economic relations between Japan and West Virginia. Senator Rockefeller is credited with driving the state’s remarkable economic relationship with Japan. Notably, the Senator’s committed efforts to attract Japanese companies to West Virginia resulted in the 1986 establishment of Wheeling-Nisshin as the first State investment project by a Japanese company, and the 1996 construction of Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia. These important projects paved the way for many more Japanese investments in West Virginia. In addition, Senator Rockefeller led trade missions to Japan including those for the Discover the Real West Virginia (DRWV) Foundation, which is an organization devoted to showcasing West Virginia’s economy and building relationships to diversify West Virginia’s economy The Senator’s efforts have also led to many successful economic initiatives including the expansion of Japanese companies’ on-site production nationwide, which contributed to better overall economic relations between the United States and Japan.
On the occasion of the 2005 World Expo held in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Senator Rockefeller publicly supported the hosting of the Expo in Aichi. Once Aichi Prefecture was selected to host the World Expo, Rockefeller not only encouraged support from the State of West Virginia, he led an American delegation to Japan to attend this global economic event.
Senator Rockefeller has long been personally involved with both the Japan Society and Asia Society including currently serving as a trustee of the Asia Society. Senator Rockefeller has also been a Member of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission for more than two decades, actively supporting the promotion of cultural and people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States. He also helped establish both the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program, which provides fellowship opportunities for federal employees in Japan, and the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, an organization that offers scholarships to American students studying abroad in Japan.
Senator Rockefeller has visited Japan multiple times since being elected to the U.S. Senate nearly 30 years ago. During each visit, Senator Rockefeller personally contributed to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the United States through dialogues with members of the Diet, senior Japanese government officials, and member of the Japanese business community.
From the time he became Governor of West Virginia in 1977, Senator Rockefeller has made a difference across a wide spectrum of efforts to strengthen Japan-U.S. relations for over 30 years. Such efforts are held in high regard throughout Japan and the U.S., and in 2008, he was awarded the Eagle on the World Award by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry for his ongoing contribution to the Japan-U.S. relationship.
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