TOKYO (Dec. 21, 2010) -- The Army's chief of staff was presented with one of Japan's most distinguished decorations during a visit to Camp Ichigaya, the headquarters of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun following a proclamation reading from Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.
Casey's visit to Japan included a stop at Camp Zama, headquarters of U.S. Army Japan, to attend a re-enlistment ceremony and conduct a question-and-answer session with members of the community.
Prior to receiving the award, Casey met with his Japanese counterpart Gen. Yoshifumi Hibako, chief of staff of the JGSDF, and later joined the general for a ceremonial groundbreaking of a tree that was planted at Camp Ichigaya to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the revised U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.
"It was a great honor for me to work with both [Japan Self-Defense Forces Chief of Staff] General [Ryoichi] Oriki and General Hibako to strengthen the Army-to-Army relationship between our two armies, and it is a great honor for me to be recognized by the country of my birth," said Casey, after having the Order of the Rising Sun badge pinned to his uniform. "Sixty-two years ago, my father was a lieutenant in Sendai, and I wonder if he ever thought that the relationship between our two countries and between our two armies could ever be where it is today."
Kitazawa congratulated Casey on receiving the highest of nine classes for the prestigious decoration, and added that he was "very moved by ... [the] kind and generous words" of the general.
At the site of the tree groundbreaking, Hibako spoke of the positive relationship U.S. and Japanese military forces have sustained for the past five decades following World War II.
"This tree will represent the future growth of the Japan-U.S. alliance from now on," said Hibako. "We pray that the growth will last until the next year, the next decade and the next century."