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Japan's emperor honors UW professor

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This year, a UW professor will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, the highest civilian award given by Japan's emperor, for his lifetime work in promoting relations between Japan and America.

Professor emeritus George Hiroaki Kakiuchi will be awarded the medal May 24 for helping to develop geographical studies in Japan. The ceremony takes place at the Seattle Consulate-General of Japan.

Kakiuchi's parents emigrated from Hiroshima prefecture to California in the early 1900s. During World War II, his family was forced into internment camps at Tule Lake, Calif., and later Minndoka, Idaho, being released only at the end of the war.

As a young man, Kakiuchi served in the U.S. Army as a translator during the occupation of Japan.

After receiving a Fullbright Fellowship, Kakiuchi attended Tokyo University while working on a master's degree at the University of Michigan. His time in Tokyo led to his later research on the impact of the huge migration from rural to urban areas that has transformed Japan in the last half-century.

Kakiuchi first started teaching in UW's geography department when it was located in downtown Seattle. During his 40 years at the UW, he served on the Fullbright Committee, the East Asia Studies Group and on the developmental committee for the geography department. Kakiuchi has been a professor emeritus since his retirement in 1990.

For the past 30 years, Kakiuchi has been active in geographic organizations such as the Association of American Geographers and the Association of Washington Geographers. In 1985, he became a member of the prestigious National Geographic Society.

Imperial awards are mostly conferred to Japanese subjects who are age 70 and older. Four other UW professors have received the award, including Kenneth Pyle, Albert Kobayashi, Richard McKinnon and Andrew Miller.

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