Japan Honors Former KY Governor Martha Layne Collins


On November 3, t he Government of Japan officially announced that the Honorable Martha Layne Collins , former Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, will be honored with a prestigious decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star , in recognition of her outstanding contributions to U.S. - Japan positive relations in Kentucky . The decoration will be conferred by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.


The Order of the Rising Sun was established in 1875 as the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government. The decoration is bestowed upon individuals who have made significant contributions to positive relations between Japan and her friends and allied nations. Governor Collins is recognized primarily for her abiding service and dedication to U.S.-Japan friendly relations.


As Governor of Kentucky (1983-1987), Martha Collins offered an unprecedented incentives package to attract a Japanese auto company to the state in the face of widespread skepticism. Her visionary move resulted in Toyota locating its first North American plant in the city of Georgetown. Many Japanese automotive supply companies followed and also invested in Kentucky. Over two decades later, Japanese companies have contributed significantly to economic development and overall international exchanges in the Commonwealth. Former Governor Collins is now praised for her foresight by Kentucky leaders.


Governor Collins continued her efforts to promote U.S.-Japan relations after leaving elected office. She has served as Honorary Consul-General of Japan at Lexington since 1991 and was reappointed for another five-year term by the Japanese Foreign Minister in August of this year. Governor Collins is Chair of the Kentucky World Trade Center, which works to advance the global presence of Kentucky companies. She was also named Honorary Chair of the Japan/America Society of Kentucky.


Governor Collins received a congratulatory message from Katsuya Okada , Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan , shortly after the official announcement of her decoration.


Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Hiroshi Sato, Consul-General of Japan at Nashville, plan to co-host a formal conferment ceremony and reception in honor of Governor Collins at the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion on December 16.