KUWAIT CITY — On Nov. 5, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah became the first Arab to receive the High Medal of the Sun from Emperor Akihito of Japan. Japanese Emperor Akihito presented the medal in a ceremony at the Emperor's Palace in Tokyo. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama presented Sheikh Jaber an accompanying certificate.
The highest decoration awarded to foreigners by the Japanese government, the High Medal, was bestowed on Sheikh Jaber in recognition of his great contribution to mutual understanding and political, diplomatic and environmental relations between Kuwait and Japan. Sheikh Jaber stated after the ceremony, "I deeply appreciate the honour. I accept it on my own behalf and on behalf of the armed forces of Kuwait and the Kuwaiti people."
During his meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama, Sheikh Jaber delivered an invitation from Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al Sabah to visit Kuwait. Hatoyama responded by saying he looked forward to the prospect. Two hundred Japanese air force soldiers are stationed at Ali Al-Salim Air Base in Kuwait, and participate in non-combat humanitarian support air missions for Iraq.
Eleven other people, including Toyota Motor Corporation President Fujio Cho, were also awarded the High Medal of the Sun this year. The medal was established in 1875 and is the oldest prize granted by the emperor to exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to strong bilateral relations with Japan.