Lady Olivia Newton-John to receive Japan’s highest civilian honor, Order of the Rising Sun

Australian film and stage legend Dame Olivia Newton-John will be awarded Japan’s highest honors for her contribution to developing the Asian nation’s music culture and fostering friendly relations with Australia.

The Japanese government announced today that it has decided to award the Order of the Rising Sun to the Australian singer currently living in the United States.

In 2015, Dame Olivia became the first foreign artist to perform in Fukushima, after a nuclear disaster four years earlier forced the city to evacuate.

Older hands hold a medal with a red jewel in the center
The Order of the Rising Sun Medal is Japan’s highest civilian honor.(ABC Central West: Luke Wong)

“I first visited Japan in 1972, and since then I have been back more than 10 times, one of my favorite countries and favorite people. A particularly memorable moment was my ‘Pray for Fukushima’ concert in 2015 in Fukushima,” she said.

“I was deeply touched by the resilience of the people affected by the disaster and it was a heartwarming experience.

“I look forward to visiting Japan and seeing you all again soon, thank you very much.”

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The 73-year-old has been an advocate for several social and health causes, most notably the promotion of cancer treatments, including through the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Center at Austin Hospital in Melbourne.

Dame Olivia is a British-born Australian star who first battled breast cancer 25 years ago and has since used her own experience, including additional cancer diagnoses, to promote awareness of the disease.

However, she has also used her profile to draw attention to post-disaster recovery efforts, including in Fukushima and after Australia’s Black Summer bush fires.

John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John perform together
Lady Olivia Newton-John performed alongside John Farnham during Fire Fight Australia’s bushfire relief concert after Black Summer bushfires.(AAP Image: Joel Carrett)

In late 2019, she was made a lady on the Queen’s 2020 New Year’s honors list for her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment.

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