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The Order of the Rising Sun (旭日章, Kyokujitsu-shō) is a Japanese order, established in 1875 by Emperor Meiji. The Order was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese government, created on 10 April 1875 by decree of the Council of State. The badge features rays of sunlight from the rising sun. The design of the Rising Sun symbolizes energy as powerful as the rising sun in parallel with the "rising sun" concept of Japan ("Land of the Rising Sun").
|Order of the Rising Sun|
|Awarded by the Emperor of Japan|
|Awarded for||Meritorious service to the state|
|Sovereign||HM The Emperor|
|Grades||1st through 8th Class (1875–2003)|
Gold and Silver Star (Rays, Principal Grade)
Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon (Cordon, Middle Grade)
Gold Rays with Rosette (Cordon, Junior Grade)
Gold and Silver Rays (Double Rays)
Silver Rays (Single Ray)
|Next (higher)||Order of the Paulownia Flowers|
|Equivalent||Order of the Sacred Treasure|
Order of the Precious Crown
The Order of the Rising Sun is awarded to people who have rendered distinguished service to the state in various fields except military service. Since there is no order for military achievements under the current Japanese system, Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel are awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure for their long engagement in public service. Prior to the end of World War II, it was also awarded for exemplary military service. In 2003, the 7th and 8th Class, which were at the bottom of the Order of the Rising Sun, were abolished, and the upper half of the 1st Class (勲一等, Kun-ittō) was separated as the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, which was higher than the Order of the Rising Sun.
Until 2003, the Order of the Rising Sun was on the same rank as the Order of the Precious Crown, with the Order of the Rising Sun being for men only and the Order of the Precious Crown for women only. The Order of the Sacred Treasure was treated as an order of slightly lower rank than the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Precious Crown. For example, the 1st class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure was placed between the 1st class and the 2nd class of the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Precious Crown, and the 2nd class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure was placed between the 2nd class and the 3rd class of the Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Precious Crown.
Since 2003, the Order of the Rising Sun has been awarded not only to men but also to women, and the Order of the Precious Crown has become a special order given only to female members of the imperial family in Japan and female members of royal families in foreign countries, only when it is specifically necessary for diplomatic ceremonies. The Order of the Rising Sun and the Order of the Sacred Treasure became the same rank of orders, and one of them came to be awarded because of the difference in the viewpoint of contribution to the state. The Order of the Rising Sun is awarded with an emphasis on achievements to the state, and the Order of the Sacred Treasure is awarded with an emphasis on long-term public service.
While it is the third highest order bestowed by the Japanese government, it is however generally the highest ordinarily conferred order. The highest Japanese order, the Order of the Chrysanthemum, is reserved for heads of state or royalty, while the second highest order, the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, is mostly reserved for politicians.
The modern version of this honour has been conferred on non-Japanese recipients beginning in 1981 (although several foreigners were given the honor before World War II). The awarding of the Order is administered by the Decoration Bureau of the Cabinet Office headed by the Japanese Prime Minister. It is awarded in the name of the Emperor and can be awarded posthumously.
Since 2003, the number representing rank included in the official name of the order was removed. As a result, although numbers representing ranks were sometimes used in common names, the formal names such as 勲一等 (Kun-ittō, First Class) and 勲二等 (Kun-nitō, Second Class) were no longer used.