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Gov. Ricketts to Receive Order of the Rising Sun Award for Strengthening the Nebraska-Japan Relationship

Media Contacts:  

Alex Reuss, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts to Receive Order of the Rising Sun Award for Strengthening the Nebraska-Japan Relationship


LINCOLN – Next week, Governor Pete Ricketts will be honored by the Government of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, for his work to strengthen the relationship between Nebraska and Japan.  Gov. Ricketts will travel to Japan to accept the award at a presentation ceremony held at the Imperial Palace on November 9, 2022.  The Order of the Rising Sun is the Government of Japan’s oldest national decoration, dating back to 1875, and one of the highest honors bestowed on international leaders by the country.  It is awarded to individuals who have displayed especially meritorious service in building mutually beneficial ties with Japan.


“Nebraska has a long-established friendship with Japan,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “I have appreciated the hospitality, kindness, and partnership of Japanese leaders during my time as Governor.  Working together, we’ve been able to grow our relationship both through trade and cultural exchange.  Thank you to the Government of Japan for this tremendous honor and for being a steadfast ally and friend of the State of Nebraska.”


Japan is the world’s third largest economy.  Gov. Ricketts has led three trade missions to Japan—in 2015, 2017, and 2019—to promote Nebraska’s agricultural products and to encourage Japanese companies to invest in Nebraska.  During the 2017 trade mission, Gov. Ricketts and other governors met with former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss ways to strengthen U.S-Japan relations.    


In addition to leading trade missions to Japan, Gov. Ricketts has hosted numerous Japanese dignitaries in Nebraska and has been a regular participant in the annual Midwest U.S.-Japan Association (MWJA) Conference, attending each year it has been held during his tenure as Governor.  This includes in 2018, when Gov. Ricketts hosted the 50th Annual MWJA Conference in Omaha, welcoming Japanese governors and business executives to the state, showcasing the Good Life as a great place to invest. 


Japan is the largest international investor in Nebraska.  Japanese companies located in the Cornhusker State support nearly 6,500 jobs across dozens of businesses.  The State has worked to promote Nebraska as a great place for Japanese firms—like Kawasaki, Itochu, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries—to do business. 


In 2021, Nebraska exported over $1.4 billion of products and services to Japan—an all-time high.  This included $457 million of beef, an increase of 88% (or $215 million) from Nebraska’s beef exports to Japan in 2015.  During the Governor’s time in office, Japan has taken major steps to decrease tariffs on U.S. beef and to remove other trade barriers.  He was a leading proponent of a new trade deal between the U.S. and Japan, which President Trump and former Japanese Prime Minister Abe finalized in 2019.  Last year, Japan was Nebraska’s top international market for pork and eggs, #2 market for beef, #3 market for corn, and #4 market for soybeans.   


“In receiving this honor, I accept it on behalf of Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, producers, business leaders, and the countless state teammates who have helped us strengthen our special relationship with Japan over the past eight years,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “As we look to the future, it is critical that we continue to forge even deeper ties between our countries for generations to come.”


Gov. Ricketts will travel to Tokyo early next week to receive the award in person.  A photo release will follow.