On June 18, the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2011 Spring Imperial Decorations.
The Honorable Daniel Ken Inouye, U.S. Senator from Hawaii, received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, which is the highest level of National Orders for ordinary foreigners.
Inouye was presented the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in the fall of 1999, recognizing his significant contribution to enhancing the Japan-U.S. relationship as a pioneer in Congress and for the respect he has gained as a Japanese-American.
The conferment of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulawnia Flowers is to recognize his continued significant and unprecedented contributions to the enhancement of goodwill and understanding between Japan and the United States.
Inouye is the only person in the world outside Japan to receive The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers this spring. Senator Inouye is the 7th American recipient of this award, and the first foreigner of Japanese descent to receive it.
Inouye made a great effort to initiate official exchange between the Japanese Diet and the U.S. Senate, and he assumes the U.S. Chairmanship position.
Inouye visits Japan every year and most recently, he visited Japan from the end of May to June. He also visited Sendai, one of the areas affected by the Great Earthquake.
Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate and President Pro-Tempore, is third in line for presidential succession. He currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Inouye is also known for his service as a World War II veteran with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. He earned the Medal of Honor, the highest award for military valor of the United States.
Inouye is married to Irene Hirano, president of the U.S.-Japan Council. Aside from his service as a Senator, Inouye and Mrs. Hirano-Inouye contribute to Japan-US relations in many other ways.