Ambassador Tsuruoka explained that the decoration had been conferred upon Reverend Sato during an audience with His Majesty The Emperor Reiwa on 21 May 2019 in Japan and that he was one of the very first people to be honoured by the new Emperor. Reverend Sato has made several distinguishable contributions to the cause of reconciliation, the promotion of Japan-UK cultural or person-to-person exchanges, and contributions to the world of literature with his beautifully written English language books on Buddhist philosophy and the Haiku of Basho.
Soon after his arrival in the UK in 1993 intent on furthering spiritual exchange between Japan and the UK, Reverend Sato became involved in reconciliation efforts when in October 1997 the late Mr Masao Hirakubo, a founding figure in the Reconciliation Movement, and three British friends approached Reverend Sato to ask for his help in fostering reconciliation. This request lead Reverend Sato work for the incorporation of an annual prayer ceremony into a regular meeting known as the London Eza. This prayer ceremony has now been held for over twenty years and has included the participation of Anglican priests, and Buddhist monks and nuns from various traditions.
In his speech, Ambassador Tsuruoka recognized the various generations who had gathered for this year’s Summer Reunion for Peace and Friendship and their continued commitment to reconciliation. He also referred to the need to learn from the past, that we cannot recreate it, but that we can have a role in creating the future, working together with shared hope for the next generation.
Expressing his deep appreciation for the honour that had been accorded him, Reverend Sato said that he felt very honoured, but that the honour was not his alone. Reverend Sato said that he had sought and prayed for reconciliation and world peace alongside a great many good friends and it is with them that he would like to share this honour.
The Embassy of Japan