Japanese Government honours Mr Stephen McEnally

On 2 March 2017, Ambassador Tsuruoka bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette on Mr Stephen McEnally, former Chief Executive of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, in recognition of his distinguished contribution to promoting friendly relations and mutual understanding between Japan and the United Kingdom.

After graduating from Grey College, University of Durham in 1972, Mr McEnally joined the British Council in 1975, holding a variety of posts both at home and overseas. From 1979 to 1983 he was the Council’s Assistant Representative in Tokyo and then Director of its Kyoto Office, where he oversaw its work in western Japan. He also managed the first cohort of British graduates to teach in Japan (now the JET Programme), an initiative he helped to set up in 1978. He was the Council’s Regional Officer for Japan and East Asia in the 1980s.

In 1994 he was appointed Director of Programmes at the Japan Foundation in London. In this role he contributed to the development of programmes in Japanese language education, Japanese Studies and cultural projects that laid the foundations for people-to-people exchange between the UK and Japan for more than ten years.

After becoming Chief Executive of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in 2006, he worked, most notably, to set up two major funding programmes to promote Japanese Studies in British universities with a grant from The Nippon Foundation. The Sasakawa Lectureship Programme, a £2.5 million project, funded 13 new lectureship posts in Japanese Studies at 12 British universities. A £1.5 million studentship programme was also introduced for up to 30 Japanese Studies postgraduates per year that will continue until 2019. Furthermore, he initiated a joint project with Chatham House in order for representatives of the two countries to discuss issues of common concern and to examine potential areas of collaboration.

In 2011, as a board member of the Japan Society, he was instrumental in the decision to allow researchers and students affiliated with the Sasakawa Foundation to participate in the Society’s activities.

Ambassador Tsuroka praised Mr McEnally for his tireless work to "promote deeper mutual understanding through the activities and initiatives of the organisations with which he has been associated" and noted that with his rich network of contacts in the UK-Japan community and his deep insights about Japan, Mr McEnally "is highly trusted by Japanese organisations and businesses in the UK as well as by Japan-based bodies interacting with this country."

On receiving his decoration, Mr McEnally said "I count myself lucky in having worked in cultural and educational relations throughout my career and I’m grateful to your Government for recognising their importance through this award." He went on to say "It’s been a privilege to play a small part in helping the UK-Japan relationship and I shall continue to do all I can to promote it further and to justify the huge honour that your country has bestowed upon me this evening."
The Embassy of Japan