|Ambassador Nogami with Sir Richard Needham
Sir Richard Needham, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all here today to honour a man who has dedicated his life to the promotion of better relations between our two countries, both in politics and in trade. I now have the happy task of bestowing upon the Rt Hon Sir Richard Francis Needham the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star in appreciation of his tireless efforts and enthusiasm therein.
Sir Richard played a vital role in setting up the UK-Japan 2000 Group, now the UK-Japan 21st Century Group. As a founding member, Sir Richard stands out as the only person to have participated in all 20 Annual Meetings, greatly adding to the constructive discussions on a wide range of issues - a bilateral Working Holiday visa; a UK volunteer visa in Japan; and British participation in the 2005 Aichi Expo. The enthusiastic and continued support of Sir Richard and other leading forces in the Group not only helped increase levels of understanding and progress in a number political, economic and social issues affecting each country , but perhaps more importantly, it ha s also created enduring and sincere personal relationships between leading figures in the two countries over the last twenty years.
In addition to this, Sir Richard played a pivotal role in the 'Action Japan Campaign' which was launched during his time as Minister for Trade. The campaign greatly helped promote mutual trade and investment between Japan and the UK. Since his departure from politics ten years ago, Sir Richard has turned his attentions to a number of business enterprises, yet still maintains strong ties with Japan.
These positive contributions, just some of his great achievements as a promoter of UK-Japanese relations, are now being felt in Japan. I am very pleased to be witness to such an excellent level of dialogue and cooperation between our two countries, doubtlessly aided by the projects outlined above in which Sir Richard played such key roles.
It is therefore a great pleasure, and honour for me as a representative of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, to confer upon the Rt Hon Sir Richard Francis Needham the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.
Please accept my heartfelt congratulations and sincerest appreciation.