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Ichiro declines Japan gov't People's Honor Award offer for 3rd time

Ichiro Suzuki waves to fans after his final major league game, between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, at Tokyo Dome on March 21, 2019 (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

TOKYO -- Major league baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki, who announced his retirement as a player at the end of March, has declined an offer for the People's Honor Award a third time, the top government spokesman has disclosed.

In a news conference on the morning of April 5, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Ichiro had delivered a message to the government through a representative stating, "I'll strive to be able to receive the award at the end of my life."

Suga commented, "Out of respect for his feelings, we decided not to consider bestowing the award in line with his recent retirement." The government spokesman added, "He's a superstar who continues to give many people hopes and dreams, and I look forward to seeing his activities in the future."

Ichiro, who ended his playing career with the Seattle Mariners, had a combined total of 4,367 hits in Japan and Major League Baseball. In the majors, he had 10 straight 200-hit seasons, and broke the single-season hits record in 2004, slapping 262.

Two times under the administration of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in 2001 and 2004, the government sounded Ichiro out about giving him the award, but he turned down the offers, saying, "I'd be very thankful if I could receive one when I have finished my baseball career."

(Japanese original by Katsuya Takahashi, Political News Department, and Yudai Nakazawa, General Digital Reporting Center)

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