American Jewish Committee (AJC) announced today that it will honor Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo with its Light unto the Nations Award. It is AJC’s highest honor bestowed on world leaders who exhibit leadership, courage and principle.

“Steadfast defense of democratic values and unwavering commitment to friendship with the United States and Israel are hallmarks of your leadership, and models for other nations to emulate,” said AJC’s Asia Pacific Institute Chair Jeffrey E. Stone. The AJC award will be presented to Abe later this year.

“Japan is a democratic powerhouse in Asia, an essential ally and partner of the United States, a close friend of Israel, and an anchor of stability in a vital part of the world,” Stone added.

AJC, the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, has uniquely engaged Japan over the past 30 years through its pioneering Asia Pacific Institute (API). Meetings with Prime Minister Abe have occurred regularly during the annual API delegations’ visits to Japan since he assumed office in 2012.

Kiyoto Tsuji, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, briefly addressed the AJC Global Forum. “I would like to express my deep appreciation on the bestowal of the Light Unto the Nations Award from AJC to Japan’s Prime Minister Abe. I take the award as a sign of acknowledgement of the leadership that he has shown for many years in promoting the partnership between Japan and the Jewish community, including Israel.”

Two years ago, Abe spoke about his country’s robust relations with the United States and the American Jewish community in a strong message of support delivered to the 2017 AJC Global Forum.

“Japan attaches great importance to ties with the Jewish people,” said Abe in a message read by Kentaro Sonoura, Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs. “Our exchanges with the Jewish community in the United States form an important tie supporting the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

In 2015, in a video address to the AJC Global Forum, Abe expressed his “respect for AJC’s efforts to forge a close relationship with Japan for more than a quarter century.”

In recent years, the Japan-Israel relationship has expanded greatly, with trade growing by more than 25 percent in the past two years. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly credited AJC for the “patient diplomacy” that led to Japan’s reversal of its position and to cease complying with the Arab boycott against Israel during the 1990s.

API, based in New York. is directed by Shira Loewenberg and chaired by Jeffrey E. Stone. The AJC institute, the first of its kind in the Jewish world, is represented in Tokyo by Jerry Rosenberg.

Previous recipients of AJC’s Light Unto the Nations Award include Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

AJC, founded in 1906 and with headquarters in New York, maintains 22 regional offices across the United States; 12 overseas posts; and 37 international association agreements with Jewish communities.

The AJC Global Forum, taking place June 2-4 in Washington, D.C., is the advocacy organization’s signature annual event, bringing together nearly 2,500 civic, political, and Jewish leaders from across the United States and 50 countries around the world.

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