On 3 November 2006, the Japanese government announced that a decoration was to be bestowed upon Michael Barrett OBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of Japanese culture and to the enhanced understanding of Japan among British people. The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon will be presented to him on behalf of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan by Ambassador Yoshiji Nogami later this month.
Since 1970 Mr Barrett��s career has involved close contact with, and frequent visits to, Japan. He spent a total of 13 years there with the British Council, including six years as Director from 1993 to 1999. During his time with the British Council he devoted himself to fostering dialogue and mutual understanding between Japan and the United Kingdom.
Following his return to the UK, Mr Barrett involved himself closely with the ambitious project Japan 2001, which attracted more than three million people interested in learning more about Japan and its culture. Having become a Member of the Organising Committee in 2000, he contributed greatly to the success of the venture by helping to raise funds and advising on a number of key issues.
In 2000 Mr Barrett was appointed Executive Director of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, in which position he served for six years. The Foundation supports exchange programmes and other activities in such arenas as the environment, the arts, culture and medicine. During his time with the Foundation, Mr Barrett made it his mission to promote dialogue in ever-more diverse fields so as to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
In addition to his sterling work with the Foundation, Mr Barrett served with great distinction as a Council Member of The Japan Society.
Throughout his professional life, Michael Barrett has been at the heart of Japan-UK exchange both at the grass-roots and academic levels. His valuable role in this regard is widely recognised among people and organisations devoted to strengthening bilateral relations. He well deserves to be honoured for this achievement.
When informed about the decoration, Mr Barrett commented as follows: ��I am deeply honoured by this unexpected award, and I am above all happy that the importance of cultural relations is being recognised in this way. Professional and individual connections between Japan and the UK have grown steadily over the years and there are opportunities for productive exchanges in all areas of life and society. I am grateful to all the Japanese and British friends and colleagues whose own contributions to mutual understanding have enriched the relationship even further and made me feel very lucky to have had the privilege of working in this field.��