Sir Bobby Charlton receives decoration from the Government of Japan



On 30 May 2012, Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi bestowed The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette upon Sir Robert (‘Bobby’) Charlton for his outstanding contribution to promoting cultural exchange between Japan and the United Kingdom, and to the development of football in Japan.

In 1992 Sir Bobby was appointed by the Japan Football Association (JFA) to be an ‘Ambassador’ in support of Japan’s efforts to host the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He travelled all over the world promoting Japan’s attractions in this capacity. Thanks in large part to Sir Bobby’s efforts, Japan, together with the Republic of Korea, was awarded the 2002 tournament.

When football was enjoying surging popularity in Japan in the late 1990s, Sir Bobby acted as an adviser concerning the construction of Japan’s National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture. He also officially named it “J-Village”. Opened in 1997, J-Village, as well as being used as a training camp for Japan’s national team, became a centre for nurturing Japanese footballers, for instance through the JFA’s ‘Academy Fukushima’. Moreover, the members of the Japanese team that won the Women’s World Cup last year honed their skills at J-Village.

Sir Bobby with Ambassador Hayashi

In 1919, in order to popularise football in Japan, the Football Association donated a ‘Silver Cup’ to Japan. As the trophy was melted down by the military during World War II, the FA presented the JFA with a replica of it last year, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Japanese body’s establishment. In August 2011 the FA hosted a ceremony to mark the presentation of the Silver Cup to the JFA, at which Sir Bobby was present as a special guest representing the football community in England. Furthermore, the following month the JFA held a party to celebrate its 90th anniversary, which Sir Bobby attended on behalf of the FA. Through such activities Sir Bobby has helped to deepen the footballing links between Japan and the UK.

Sir Bobby receiving The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette

Last November
, the Embassy of Japan in the United Kingdom received an offer from the Football Association to stage without charge a football match on the ‘hallowed’ turf of Wembley Stadium in support of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Through close cooperation with the JFA, that same month 16 high school students from the stricken region were invited to the UK and given the opportunity to take part in a football match at Wembley. Sir Bobby attended as a special guest, and at the opening ceremony not only offered them rousing words of encouragement but also presented them with souvenirs, leaving them extremely moved.

In his speech, Ambassador Hayashi stated:

"For the last two decades Sir Bobby has done his best to promote football in Japan and to nurture strong UK-Japan sporting links. He fully deserves to be recognised for his sterling contribution to friendship and mutual understanding between our two countries and peoples."