CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., thanked the Japanese government on Tuesday for awarding him the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
The award, created in 1875 as Japan's first national award, praises Rockefeller's decades of work promoting economic and cultural relationships between the two countries."I am so humbled by this award and filled with gratitude to the Emperor for selecting me to receive the Order of the Rising Sun.
"The people of Japan have not only shaped my life in profound ways, but they have also shaped the lives of thousands of West Virginians and forever become part of the fabric of our state," Rockefeller said. "I look forward to continuing and strengthening this tremendous partnership for years to come."
Rockefeller lived in Japan from 1957 to 1960, studying at Tokyo's International Christian University a year before he graduated from Harvard College. He then worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C., before moving to Emmons to work for VISTA in 1964.
After he was first elected governor in 1976, Rockefeller began building relationships between West Virginia and Japanese businesses.
As governor and a U.S. senator, Rockefeller led a dozen trade missions to Japan and played a key role in attracting more than 20 Japanese companies to the state -- companies that invested billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs.
Those businesses include:
- Wheeling-Nisshin, Inc, which was created in 1986 as a joint venture between Nisshin Steel Co. and Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp. and was the first Japanese investment in the state. Its aluminizing and galvanizing plant began operating in 1988 in Follansbee in the Northern Panhandle.