Tokyo: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was conferred one of Japan's top national awards for his “significant contribution to the enhancement of relations and promotion of friendship” between Japan and India , becoming the first Indian to receive the rare honour.
Singh was awarded 'The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers' by Japanese Emperor Akihito at an glittering ceremony held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Wednesday.
A Japanese Embassy statement in Delhi called the award a "high level National Order" and a rare honour awarded to those who are recognised for their distinguished contribution, adding "Manmohan Singh is the first Indian recipient of this Order."
Singh had earlier said that said he was truly honoured and felt "humbled by the love and affection showered upon me by the people and government of Japan."
He said it had been his dream to see India-Japan relationship grow and prosper and "this is an objective towards which I have worked, not only in my tenure as the Prime Minister of India, but across the larger part of my career in public service".
Singh had served as the prime minister of India for 10 years from 2004 till 2014 when the Congress lost power to the Narendra Modi-led BJP.
He is among 57 foreign recipients named for the 2014 Autumn Imperial Decorations.