TOKYO • A veteran Singaporean diplomat has been conferred a prestigious honour by the Japanese government in recognition of his work to promote bilateral ties.
Mr Tan Chin Tiong, 73, who was Singapore's ambassador to Japan from October 2004 to January 2012, was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.
His predecessor, Mr Chew Tai Soo, ambassador from 1998 to 2004, was given the same honour last year. Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was last year posthumously recognised with the top honour, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers. Mr Tan was among the 149 foreigners honoured yesterday with imperial decorations.
Mr Tan, now director of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, had "contributed to promoting friendly relations and mutual understanding", said Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In an e-mail to The Straits Times, Mr Tan highlighted the close ties at both the official and people-to-people levels between the two nations which have shared "decades of cooperation and trust". He cited how Singaporeans rallied to help Japan after the 2011 tsunami, raising $35.7 million in one of the Republic's largest disaster relief efforts.
He also noted the many friendship associations Singapore has set up with Japanese cities and regions.
"Going forward, we can do more to encourage and recognise the work of these friendship associations," he said, adding that the two countries could also do more to share and learn from each other's experiences in ageing and demographic studies as their circumstances mirror each other.