Ambassador Tsuruoka explained that the decoration had been conferred upon Mrs Holmes during an audience with His Majesty The Emperor on 10 May 2018 in Japan. Mrs Holmes’ tireless service in the cause of reconciliation goes back many years. It began when she worked as a volunteer helping many former PoWs and their families to visit Japan so that they might gain a better understanding of the country and its people, thus helping to pave the way for reconciliation between our two countries. In the early 1990s, Mrs Holmes collected private donations to enable many of the 300 PoWs who had worked during the war in a coal mine in her home town of Iruka, in present-day Mie Prefecture, to visit Japan. With the help of a Japanese Government scheme to assist the former PoWs and their families in this regard, Mrs Holmes facilitated reconciliation trips to Japan for 423 individuals over the 12 years from 1995 to 2006. Moreover, she publicized what she had learned about their experiences both in Japan and the UK as a means of promoting mutual understanding and, of course, friendship.
In his speech, Ambassador Tsuruoka pointed out that, while many of us have a natural urge to change the world for the better, we need help, cooperation and mutual understanding to really make it happen. He also referred to the need to learn from the past in negotiating the present so that we can properly help future generations to flourish. Expressing her deep appreciation for the honour that had been accorded her, Mrs Holmes declared that she owned it to the many people who had supported and encouraged her along the way.
The Embassy of Japan