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Japan's highest civilian order awarded to Philip Seng

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Seng credited for strengthening Japan-U.S. economic relations, particularly in the meat sector.

Japan has announced that Philip M. Seng has been named a recipient of the 2020 Autumn Imperial Decorations. Seng is to receive "The Order of the Rising Sun," which is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in areas such as international relations and promotion of Japanese culture.

Japan's ministry of foreign affairs recommended Seng, former president & chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), for his contributions to "strengthening Japan-U.S. economic relations, particularly in the meat field, and promoting mutual understanding between Japan and the United States."

"I am honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award from the Japanese government," said Seng. "However, the recognition should primarily go to the many Japanese colleagues who mentored me along the way, and to the numerous Japanese individuals and companies who introduced and championed U.S. meat products in Japan."

While the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon is the third highest order bestowed by the Japanese government, it is considered the highest ordinarily conferred order for civilians. The highest Japanese order, the Order of the Chrysanthemum, is reserved for heads of state or royalty, while the second highest order, the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, is mostly reserved for politicians.

"On behalf of USMEF, I offer Phil a wholehearted congratulations on this honor," said USMEF president and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Phil deserves credit for advancing U.S. red meat interests around the world, and his impact was especially evident in Japan, where he worked tirelessly to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Japan."

Seng joined USMEF as its Asian director in 1982. He served in that capacity until 1988, when he became USMEF's vice president of international programs. Seng served as president and chief executive officer from 1990 to 2018.

"My strategy was to approach the market respectfully, with the perspectives of the Japanese trade and consumers paramount," explained Seng. "In this way, we were able to jointly satisfy customer demands and develop everlasting trade relationships that benefitted both the U.S. and Japan."

Seng is the only American to serve as president of the International Meat Secretariat, where he served four terms, and he also served on the president's Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee. Seng is currently an affiliate professor in the animal science department at Colorado State University.

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