Kyoto/London - Dr. Kazuo Inamori, a global entrepreneur and philanthropist, received the title of Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) from Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom on November 28, 2019.
The honor, bestowed in Japan by His Excellency Paul Madden, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom, during an investiture ceremony at the Ambassador’s residence, was announced by Kyocera Corporation, KDDI Corporation, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., and the Inamori Foundation.
Inamori is the founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera; honorary adviser to KDDI; honorary adviser to Japan Airlines; and founder of the Inamori Foundation.
The honorary KBE title recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions to society as a whole. Other recipients have included Bill and Melinda Gates, Steven Spielberg, Alan Greenspan, James Watson, Bono, and Ralph Lauren.
“The companies that Dr. Inamori founded, Kyocera and KDDI, have created thousands of jobs and revitalised local economies across the UK, including data centres in the London Docklands which carry more than half the public internet traffic in Europe. At Japan Airlines, Dr. Inamori played a critical role in negotiating the contract to purchase Airbus aircraft. The Kyoto Prize that Dr. Inamori created has recognised 12 eminent British individuals with awards since 1984. With support from the Inamori Foundation, the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University established the University’s newest department as one of the world’s foremost schools for public policy, educating and inspiring future generations of leaders to improve governance throughout the world for the benefit of mankind,” the British Embassy in Japan stated.
The British Ambassador Paul Madden saluted Inamori for his personal leadership and commitment and was delighted to congratulate him on the award of an Honorary Knighthood.
Inamori established Kyocera at age 27 and began devoting himself continuously to the development and marketing of advanced ceramic materials. After the deregulation of Japan’s telecommunications market, he established DDI Corporation (now KDDI) with the goal of lowering long-distance calling fees. In 2010, at the age of 78, he accepted a volunteer assignment as chairman of Japan Airlines, leading it out of bankruptcy, returning it to solid profitability, and relisting it on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. As a philanthropist, he established the non-profit Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize in 1984 to honor researchers and artists who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement and development of humankind, in order to realize his lifelong belief that “human beings have no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of humanity and the world.”
Inamori’s most recent engagement with the UK began with a lecture he gave at the Embassy in 2013. The following year, he was invited to speak at the University of Oxford. Subsequently, the university proposed hosting an annual lecture series as a forum for each year’s Kyoto Prize laureates to discuss their lives and works. The Kyoto Prize at Oxford series began in 2017 within the Graduate School’s Inamori Forum, building closer ties between Japan and the UK.
“This is really more of an honor than I deserve. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude,” Inamori stated. “I feel that the conferment of this honor represents the greatest praise for the activities that Kyocera, KDDI, Japan Airlines, and the Inamori Foundation have fostered together with the British people in their respective histories,” Inamori continued. “I want to share this honor with everyone in each company. I will continue to make efforts so that the friendly relationship between Japan and the UK may further develop in favorable ways forever.”