March 14, 2017
TOKYO, JAPAN – Japan’s Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun was conferred upon former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a ceremony today at the Prime Minister’s office in Tokyo. The former Speaker received the honor in recognition of his significant contributions to the Japan-U.S. relationship, including his work to strengthen the U.S.-Japan strategic and economic alliance and his role in making Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s historical address as the first Japanese Prime Minister to speak in front of a Joint Meeting of U.S. Congress a reality.
Prime Minister Abe on April 29, 2015 became the first Japanese leader in history to address a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress, after accepting an invitation by Speaker Boehner.
Boehner represented the 8th Congressional District of Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 25 years. Japanese companies for years have been the source of thousands of jobs for U.S. workers in the 8th District, and currently employ approximately 74,000 Ohioans across the former Speaker’s home state.
Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared for the conferral ceremony:
“Prime Minister Abe, thank you.
“I am profoundly grateful for this extraordinary honor you have bestowed upon me on behalf of the Emperor and the proud people of Japan.
“I am also deeply grateful for the hospitality and friendship you and your countrymen have extended.
“I’d like to specifically thank Minister Kobayashi, my host and guide over the past several days as I’ve experienced the beauty of your land and its amazing people.
“It was my privilege to serve as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for nearly five years.
“A high point of my speakership was the day Prime Minister Abe addressed a Joint Meeting of the United States Congress, becoming the first Japanese prime minister ever to do so.
“I was born in 1949, when the wounds of war were still raw for our mothers and fathers.
“In my lifetime, I have witnessed the evolution of the friendship between two great allies – a relationship that is now the cornerstone of the peace and prosperity of the Pacific region.
“As a child, I saw two great nations rise from the tragedy of conflict to forge a partnership in the name of freedom, democracy, and economic opportunity for all.
“As a young man, I watched from across the Pacific as a proud nation was reborn, revitalized and renewed by drawing on the character and enterprise of its people.
“And later, as a leader of my own country’s government, I saw bonds between that nation and my own nation forged. They were bonds of a quality shared not just between friends, but between sisters and brothers.
“We saw the bond deepened when Prime Minister Abe delivered his historic address to our Congress. We saw it strengthened again when President Obama traveled to Hiroshima, to honor the souls lost there; and again when the Prime Minister traveled to Pearl Harbor to pay his respects.
“Prime Minister Abe, when you visited the White House last month – the very famous White House, as President Trump put it – it was clear that the bond between our two nations has never been stronger.
“There is a Japanese saying: ‘Friends are known first in hardships.’ (Kannan ni ate hajimete shinyu o shiru)
“In America, we have the same saying, only we say it a little differently: ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed.’
“These are all elegant ways of saying: we’ve been through a lot together, and it’s made us stronger. You know we have your back, and we know you have ours.
“I accept this wonderful honor today not for myself alone, but for all Americans, who are blessed by our friendship with the people of Japan.”
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