Embassy of Japan
November 3, 2016
On November 3, 2016 (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2016 Fall Imperial Decorations. Among the 96 foreign recipients is former House Speaker John A. Boehner, who will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in recognition of his significant contributions to the Japan-U.S. relationship, including his historical role in making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historical address as the first Japanese Prime Minister to speak in front of a Joint Meeting of U.S. Congress a reality.
SUMMARY OF CONTRIBUTIONS
For almost 25 years, Speaker Boehner served as a Representative from the state of Ohio, a state with a very strong economic relationship with Japan. Japan is the top foreign investor in Ohio, and around 460 Japanese-owned facilities have moved into the state, employing 74,000 local employees. The district that Speaker Boehner served as a Representative, Ohio’s 8th District, by itself hosts around 50 Japanese-owned facilities (including automotive parts makers) that employ around 7,500 workers. These deep economic ties between Japan, his state, and his district greatly influenced Speaker Boehner’s thoughts on politics, and he holds a profound awareness of the strong relationship between Japan and the U.S.
In April 2015, Speaker Boehner as the then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives invited Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to speak in front of a Joint Meeting of U.S. Congress. Even though over 110 Joint Meeting Addresses had been delivered by foreign dignitaries up until that point, none had been delivered by a dignitary from Japan. With his invitation, Speaker Boehner allowed Prime Minister Abe to become the first Japanese Prime Minister in history to ever do so. Notably, Joint Meeting Addresses do not happen so often; the busiest year so far only had 5 Joint Meeting Addresses, and it is not uncommon to have years with none. Inviting someone to address a Joint Meeting is under the sole authority of the Speaker of the House, and invitations are only offered to dignitaries who the Speaker recognizes as truly important. As a man who deeply understands the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, Speaker Boehner chose a fitting year—the 70th Year Anniversary of the End of World War II—to invite the Prime Minister.
During his time as House Speaker, Speaker Boehner also strongly propelled consideration of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, which is necessary to fast-track trade agreements including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. TPP will not only establish a vast economic zone representing nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP and set high-standard trade rules to address a wide range of 21st-century issues, but it also has strategic significance for strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, a cornerstone in the Asia Pacific region. Two months after Prime Minister Abe’s Joint Meeting Address, Speaker Boehner quoted words from the Prime Minister’s speech during the House Floor debate on TPA and called on his colleagues to approve the bill. Although the TPA consideration faced many challenges, Speaker Boehner’s strong leadership paved the way for eventual passage in Congress. Consequently, an agreement in principle was reached on the TPP Agreement on October 5, 2016, almost three months after the passage of TPA.
The Government of Japan sincerely hopes that the conferral of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun on Speaker Boehner, who led Congress for almost 5 years as the 53rd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and still has an impact on U.S. politics, will lead to further development and deepening of the Japan-U.S. relationship.
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