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Japan to give Julia Gillard rare honour

Julia Gillard was the first foreign leader to visit areas of Japan hit by the horrifying 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Julia Gillard was the first foreign leader to visit areas of Japan hit by the horrifying 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Photo: Getty

Former prime minister Julia Gillard is set to be honoured by the Japanese government for her service to the nation.

Ms Gillard will receive the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, being one of 117 non-Japanese from 46 countries to be honoured in the spring.

She told Japan’s NHK in an online interview it was “an award for the people of Australia”.

Ms Gillard was the first foreign leader to visit the north-eastern Tohuku region hit by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

In the immediate aftermath, Australia provided food aid packages, donations and relief teams.

But since then many reconstruction projects have been funded and Australia’s relations with Japan have considerably strengthened.

The former Labor leader said she had decided on the 2011 visit “as a visible way of saying that Japan was coming through this profound period of tragedy and was looking to reopen and re-engage with the world”.

The grand cordon is the highest class of the Order of the Rising Sun, which was established in 1875.

-AAP

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