Yomiuri Giants legends Nagashima, Matsui to receive National Honor Awards
by THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Baseball greats Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui will be nominated for National Honor Awards, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Suga told reporters at an April 1 news conference that he ordered a secretariat to prepare nominations for the two former Yomiuri Giants. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to soon deliver a formal decision after consultations with relevant officials.
The National Honor Award was established in 1977 to "honor those persons, respected by a broad spectrum of the people, whose distinguished accomplishments have brought a light of hope to society." The prime minister is responsible for naming the recipients.
So far, 20 individuals and one group have received the award. The 48th yokozuna Taiho, a sumo legend whose real name was Koki Naya, was given one posthumously in February under the Abe administration. The forthcoming awards will be the second since Abe resumed the office of prime minister in December.
"Nagashima is definitely the greatest superstar of the postwar period," Abe told reporters April 1 in his official residence. "And Matsui is a baseball player who was loved in both Japan and the United States."
Suga described Nagashima as "a national star of the baseball world, who earned the nickname 'Mr. Professional Baseball.'"
Suga said of Matsui: "He became the first Japanese player to be named the Most Valuable Player in the World Series, and he was loved by his nickname, 'Godzilla,' by people in both Japan and the United States."
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