Japanese people receive Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Concord

1. (From left) Fire Captain Toyohiko Tomioka of the Tokyo Fire Department, Superintendant Yoshitsugu Oikawa of the Metropolitan Police Department, Colonel Shinji Iwaguma, Lieutenant Colonel Kenji Kato, and Superintendant Masami Watanabe of the Fukushima Police Station 2. Lieutenant Colonel Kato shaking hands with HRH Felipe de Borbón 3. Colonel Iwaguma and Lieutenant Colonel Kato chatting in a relaxed atmosphere
1. (From left) Fire Captain Toyohiko Tomioka of the Tokyo Fire Department, Superintendant Yoshitsugu Oikawa of the Metropolitan Police Department, Colonel Shinji Iwaguma, Lieutenant Colonel Kenji Kato, and Superintendant Masami Watanabe of the Fukushima Police Station
2. Lieutenant Colonel Kato shaking hands with HRH Felipe de Borbón
3. Colonel Iwaguma and Lieutenant Colonel Kato chatting in a relaxed atmosphere

On October 21, the award ceremony for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord took place. The Prince of Asturias Award is an award that rewards the social and scientific, artistic, humanistic and other work performed at an international level by an individual, or individuals or groups which contributed to humankind. The award is bestowed by a foundation, whose honorary president is served by His Royal Highness Felipe de Borbón of the Spanish Royal Family.

In September, it was decided that the award will be bestowed on the “heroes of Fukushima,” including the SDF, police, and firefighters, who, in the wake of the damage from the large tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, participated in the efforts to cool the nuclear reactors of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power station that was in an extremely dangerous situation as well as efforts to evacuate the residents. On behalf of the SDF, the award ceremony in October was attended by Colonel Shinji Iwakuma, head of the Central Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Defense Unit (CNBC), which led the water-spraying operations from the ground and the decontamination activities, and Lieutenant Colonel Kenji Kato, head of the 104th Squadron of the Helicopter Brigade, which led the cooling operations by launching water from helicopters.

At the award ceremony, Colonel Iwakuma accepted the award from His Royal Highness Felipe, and all members shook hands with His Royal Highness. There was a large round of applause when the two SDF personnel bowed to the audience, standing next to the three representatives of the police and firefighters on the podium. His Royal Highness lauded that their courageous sprit of sacrifice had set an example for the world.

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