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Japan confers one of its highest honours upon Douglas Wakiihuri to acknowledge his contribution to sports development between Japan and Kenya

ATHLETICS By Odero Charles | June 12th 2021
Japanese Emperor’s decoration upon Mr. Douglas Wakiihuri [PHOTO COURESY]

On behalf of the Government of Japan, Ambassador of Japan to Kenya, Horie Ryoichi, on 11th June, conferred one of its highest national honours, the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” on Mr. Douglas Wakiihuri.

The honour is one of the highest orders under the Order of the Rising Sun established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. It was the first national decoration awarded by the Government of Japan.

Those present at the ceremony held at the Official Residence of the Ambassador included Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage Ambassador Amina Mohamed, and General Jackson Tuwei, President of Athletics Kenya, as well as Mr. Francis Mutuku, Secretary-General of the National Olympic Committee Kenya among others.

Conferment of His Majesty Japanese Emperor’s decoration “the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silber Rays” upon Mr. Douglas Wakiihuri [PHOTO COURESY]

A statement by the Japanese embassy said the decoration was conferred by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan on 29thof April, the 2nd year of Reiwa(2021) and witnessed by the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. SUGA Yoshihide, to acknowledge Mr. Douglas Wakiihuri’s contribution to the development of the bilateral relationship between  Japan and Kenya in  the sporting field. 

Mr. Wakiihuri paved  the  way for  the  practice of  running  for the Japanese  works  team as  a foreigner, being the first Kenyan to do so and now it has become common practice in Japan  to see  foreign  athletes training with young Japanese athletes who go on to become the world’s leading marathon runners.

This practice, till today, has provided a lot of stimuli and dreams for Japanese youngsters.

Moreover, after his retirement, Mr. Wakiihuri has been positively engaging in boosting the bilateral cultural relationship between Japan and Kenya and extending cooperative support on various occasions, such as the organisation of the Nairobi Sotokoto Marathon.

During the ceremony, Ambassador Horie conveyed his warm congratulations and gratitude to Mr. Wakiihuri for his arduous and continuous engagement for the advancement of the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Touching upon Mr. Wakiihuri’s unique talent for singing, the ambassador praised the exquisite incorporation of Japanese culture in his songs, which exemplifies his distinguished role of bridging the two countries.

Mr. Wakiihuri, in his remarks, expressed his gratitude to the people of Japan, saying that:  “I was passed a tasuki (sash), a sign of responsibility from Japanese people to continue running in the race of life.

“This decoration is not only for me but for all of you who cheered for me all through the race.

“As I stand on the podium today, I extend my sincere  gratitude for  His  Majesty the  Emperor  of,  the  Government of Japan, Ambassador Horie, those who are present  here  today and  all the  people who  have supported me to date.”

Ambassador Horie wished them continued success and good health of Mr. Wakiihuri, a great athlete and a great singer.

The event was also a special occasion where the relevant officials related to the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics gathered.

Ambassador Horie, together with CS Amina and Mr. Mutuku presented their solid resolution for the success of the Games and their wish for the best performance of the Kenyan athletes.

 “As the Ambassador of Japan to Kenya, I wish all the  Kenyan athletes will show their very best performances in Tokyo, but please don’t be too hard on the Japanese athletes as I  know  Kenyan athletes are extraordinarily competitive,” Ambassador added.

Kenya is expected to send their best athletes in various fields with the first batch of Team Kenya departing on July 5 for a 12-day training camp before heading to Tokyo ready to compete for the games.

 The Olympics, which were originally postponed for a year, will start on 23rdof July in Tokyo.

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