WILLIAMSTOWN - When Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is honored with an award for his lifelong relationship with the country and people of Japan on Wednesday, representatives with Hino Motors Manufacturing USA will be there to celebrate the achievement.
Rockefeller will be awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from the Government of Japan during a formal ceremony Wednesday evening hosted by the Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Kenichiro Sasae, in Washington, D.C. The Order of the Rising Sun is the highest honor for a foreigner to receive from the Japanese government.
"It is a neat honor that reflects well on the man Sen. Rockefeller is and the state of West Virginia," said Sandy Ring, general manager of external and legal affairs for Hino. "The work (Rockefeller) has done throughout the years to foster relationships between Japan and the United States is amazing."
Rockefeller said he is pleased and deeply honored to receive this recognition, which is to recognize his decades of work to strengthen and promote the economic and cultural relationship between the two countries.
"I am so humbled by this award and filled with gratitude to the emperor for selecting me to receive the Order of the Rising Sun," Rockefeller said. "The people of Japan have not only shaped my life in profound ways, but they have also shaped the lives of thousands of West Virginians and forever become part of the fabric of our state. I am incredibly proud to have helped bring our two nations closer together, and I look forward to continuing and strengthening this tremendous partnership for years to come."
Rockefeller became interested in the relationship between the two countries while studying at Tokyo's International Christian University and living in the country from 1957 to 1960. The love he developed for Japan was later combined with his commitment to public service as he built a relationship between the country and the state of West Virginia.
As governor and senator of West Virginia, Rockefeller led nearly a dozen trade missions to Japan and hosted many Japanese visitors in the state. Through the creation of relationships from these trips, he has been instrumental in bringing more than 20 Japanese companies to West Virginia. These companies have invested billions of dollars in the state while providing thousands of well-paying jobs.
Hino is one of those companies, which in 2007 opened its Williamstown manufacturing plant, located off W.Va. 14 in Williamstown. The Williamstown facility makes all of the Hino Motors trucks sold in the United States with a dealership network of about 135 locations.
Hino Motors Manufacturing is part of Toyota, which has Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia in Putnam County.
Other Japanese companies Rockefeller helped bring to West Virginia include Nisshin Steel of Japan, which partnered with Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel, and NGK Spark Plugs.
Rockefeller was selected for the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun based upon the recommendation of Japan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and awarded the honor by the Emperor of Japan. In 1969, his father, John D. Rockefeller III, also received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
"Hino has a long history with Sen. Rockefeller and I know his efforts with the company date to the early 2000s," said Ring. "He began talking to our Japanese officials more than a decade ago and since we have been in West Virginia he has continued to be involved with our company.
"We at Hino are very honored to be included in this celebration and are happy to support both Sen. Rockefeller and West Virginia," he said.