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February 23, 1998
Tokyo, Japan- Sony Founder and Honorary Chairman Akio Morita and Sony President Nobuyuki Idei were today named to l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur (the National Order of the Legion of Honor) by the French Republic on behalf of President Jacques Chirac. The French Ambassador to Japan, His Excellency Mr. Jean-Bernard Ouvrieu, presented a medal to Mrs. Akio Morita on her husband's behalf and then decorated Mr. Idei with a medal during the ceremony held at the French Ambassador's Residence this evening.
L'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur, created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is the highest honor the French Republic can bestow on an individual. The award has five grades, and it is awarded by the President of the French Republic to soldiers and civilians who have made an outstanding contribution to the country.
Sony Founder Akio Morita, who received the rank of d'Officier dans l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur (an Officer in the National Order of the Legion of Honor) in 1984, today attained the rank of Commandeur (Commander). Sony President Nobuyuki Idei, who earned the rank of Officier, became the third Sony executive to receive this prestigious honor. Sony Chairman and CEO Norio Ohga was bestowed the rank of Officier in 1996.
In bestowing the honor on Mr. Morita and Mr. Idei, the French Republic cited the important contribution that each man has made over a number of years to the bilateral relationship between France and Japan. Among other contributions, Mr. Morita served as Chairman of the Franco-Japanese Businessmen's Committee for Industrial Cooperation, a committee established by the Japan Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren). Mr Idei, who lived and worked in France from 1968 to 1972, contributed directly to the establishment of Sony France S.A. and continues to play a major role in French-Japanese bilateral relations as President of Sony Corporation.
After this evening's ceremony Mrs. Morita said, "Almost exactly 14 years have passed since the late President Mitterand bestowed the rank of Officer on my husband. That honor really meant a lot to him, and he often wore the small, red badge Ambassador Ross presented him. Having President Jacques Chirac bestow this honor on my husband today bears special significance because the two share a close friendship that dates back many years."
Mr. Idei said, "I am deeply honored to receive this distinction; it holds a special significance for me. Thirty years have passed since I left for Paris to lay the groundwork for Sony France. I remember the opening of the Sony showroom on the Champs-Élysées, and I recall saying to Mr. Morita, 'Let's make this a business that will put a gleam in the eyes of young French people. Let's build a factory in France.' Today, Sony employs more than 3,000 French people, and our commitment to France has not changed."