(June 4, 2019 / JNS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will receive the highest award from the influential American Jewish Committee, the organization announced on Monday.
“The Light Unto the Nations” Award will be given to the Japanese leader later this year, according to AJC.
AJC Asia Pacific Institute chair Jeffrey Stone said the “steadfast defense of democratic values and unwavering commitment to friendship with the United States and Israel are hallmarks of your leadership and models for other nations to emulate. Japan is a democratic powerhouse in Asia, an essential ally and partner of the United States, a close friend of Israel and an anchor of stability in a vital part of the world.”
AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, has uniquely engaged Japan over the past 30 years through its pioneering Asia Pacific Institute (API). Meetings with Abe have occurred regularly during the annual API delegation visits to Japan since he assumed office in 2012.
“I would like to express my deep appreciation on the bestowal of the ‘Light Unto the Nations Award’ from AJC to Japan’s Prime Minister Abe,” said Kiyoto Tsuji, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the AJC Global Forum, which started on Sunday and concludes on Tuesday. “I take the award as a sign of acknowledgement of the leadership that he has shown for many years in promoting the partnership between Japan and the Jewish community, including Israel.”
Abe spoke two years ago about his country’s robust relations with the United States and the American Jewish community in a strong message of support delivered to the 2017 AJC Global Forum.
“Japan attaches great importance to ties with the Jewish people,” said Abe in a message read by Japanese Foreign Minister Kentaro Sonoura. “Our exchanges with the Jewish community in the United States form an important tie supporting the Japan-U.S. alliance.”
In a video address to the AJC Global Forum in 2015, Abe expressed his “respect for AJC’s efforts to forge a close relationship with Japan for more than a quarter century.”
The Japan-Israel relationship has expanded greatly in recent years, with trade growing by more than 25 percent in the past two years. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly credited AJC for the “patient diplomacy” that led to Japan’s reversal of its position and to cease complying with the Arab boycott against Israel during the 1990s.
Previous recipients of AJC’s “Light Unto the Nations Award” include Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarközy, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 2-4 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together nearly 2,500 civic, political and Jewish leaders from across the United States and 50 countries around the world.