Japanese Government honours The Rt. Hon Sir John Major



On 8 May 2012 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, His Majesty The Emperor of Japan bestowed the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun upon The Rt Hon Sir John Major, KG CH in recognition of his invaluable contribution to Japan-UK relations through his work not only in the political and economic arena but also in promoting mutual understanding.
To celebrate this bestowal, Ambassador Hayashi hosted a reception in honour of Sir John and Dame Norma at the Embassy of Japan on 10th July 2012, which was attended by Sir John’s friends, former colleagues, Government Ministers, Members of the House of Commons and Lords as well as representatives of the Japanese community.

Sir John was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative M.P. in May 1979. Having joined the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1987, he was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1989 and then served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1989 to 1990.  In 1990 he became Prime Minister and remained in that capacity until 1997.

Sir John Major addresses the guests at the Embassy
As Prime Minister, Sir John visited Japan on two occasions. He made clear his determination to develop “a true strategic partnership” between our two countries: something on which he followed through.  Through much of his political career and more recently following his retirement as a Member of Parliament, Sir John has placed priority on nurturing relations with Japan and has played an important role in the steady development of closer bilateral ties in many fields.

It was while Sir John was in government that a number of major Japanese companies invested in the UK to the mutual benefit of our two countries.  While Prime Minister, Sir John pursued energetic campaigns aimed at boosting bilateral trade, in the form of Priority Japan (1991-94) and Action Japan (1994-97).

On the cultural front, too, it was during his premiership that the Japan Festival of 1991, a four-month extravaganza of cultural events, took place in London and across the country. The opening ceremony was attended by Sir John and Dame Norma along with His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. Hundreds of thousands of people were attracted to participate in all sorts of festival events and many legacies have been left for the future.

Even after his retirement from frontline politics, he has been active in encouraging people to engage with Japan and Asia as a former Chairman of the Ditchley Foundation and as a current President of Chatham House.

Sir John Major, Dame Norma Major, Madame Hayashi, Ambassador Hayashi (L to R)

In his speech, Ambassador Hayashiafter enumerating Sir John’s achievements in promoting the UK-Japan relationship, stated:

“I hope that, building on what Sir John has achieved, Japan and the UK will continue to work closely together to strengthen our relationship even further.”

Following the Ambassador’s speech, Sir John remarked:

“The UK and Japan are two of the most stable democracies in the world, and our relationship is political as well as economic.  It will soon include co-operation in defence and in civil nuclear matters. The Anglo-Japanese relationship goes so much wider than politics and trade. There are other key elements:  academic and cultural links;  a diplomatic exchange programme (which I am proud to say I began myself many years ago);  as well as shared values on security, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the market economy.”

In conclusion he declared:

“I was immensely honoured to be awarded the Grand Cordon of the Rising Sun by The Emperor last May.”


Embassy of Japan