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Ex-U.S. diplomat Albright, writer Ishiguro to be decorated in Japan

Nobel Literature Prize laureate Kazuo Ishiguro (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Nobel Prize-winning British writer Kazuo Ishiguro will be among 140 foreigners recognized by the Japanese government in this year's spring decorations, the government said Sunday.

Albright, 80, and Ishiguro, 63, will be bestowed the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, respectively.

The 140 foreign recipients, including 21 women, from 62 countries and regions, have made notable contributions to enhance friendly relations between Japan and their countries, the government said.

Former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, 76, award-winning film director Takeshi Kitano, 71, and retired professional shogi player Hifumi Kato, 78, are among 4,151 Japanese who will be given decorations.

Komura will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, while Kitano and Kato were selected for the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.

Of the 4,151 Japanese recipients, 399, or 9.6 percent, were women, while 1,906, or 45.9 percent, were from the private sector. The numbers of both women and people from the private sector are the highest since the honors system was reformed in 2003.

Other notable foreign recipients include Herbert Blomstedt, a 90-year-old honorary conductor laureate at the NHK Symphony Orchestra, who will be bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

Bobby Valentine, a 67-year-old former manager of Japanese professional baseball team Lotte Marines, will be conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette.

The award ceremony will be held on May 8 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo with Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in attendance.

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