June 30, 2023
On June 19, the conferment ceremony for “Encouragement Public” recognized by the French government (established in 1932) was held at L’église de la Madeleine, a world heritage site in Paris, where Okayama University Vice President/Professor YOKOI Atsufumi, who is also a UNESCO Chairholder, was awarded a Gold-laurel silver medal (formerly a “fourth class Officier”).
Vice President YOKOI was awarded the medal because his wide-ranging peaceful and altruistic activities in the region to benefit the global society have been comprehensively appreciated. Such activities include long-term initiatives for social contributions based on international education and social innovations contributing to a sustainable society. After joining Okayama University, his global activities through the UNESCO Chair were related to “research and education for sustainable development” of the Paris-based UNESCO, education on peace and benevolence, and social contribution activities which are contributing to the well-being of the earth as a member of the Earth Charter International Council at University for Peace established by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UPEACE). Furthermore, his initiatives included empowering young people by connecting regions and the world as Director of the One Young World Japan Committee.
When receiving the award, Vice President YOKOI said that: “While directly cooperating with the UN and other international organizations as Okayama University UNESCO Chairholder through the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, I have multilaterally co-created cooperative projects that are contributing to the well-being of the whole earth, and have further communicated and shared such projects with the international community in a timely manner. I think this has led to the awarding of this decoration. This medal belongs not only to me – I receive it on behalf of Okayama University and the Okayama region. It is a great honor for me. I will work even more diligently to live up to this medal.”
* “ENCOURAGEMENT PUBLIC”
This is a prestigious decoration system in France that was established in 1932 with the approval of the French Republic and commemorated its 90th anniversary last year. It is to award a medal of honor to encourage individuals or organizations that have contributed with their meritorious deeds in France, in overseas French regions, and foreign countries in the fields of social and public projects, specialized professions and arts, or in terms of humanitarianism and philanthropy. Its decoration is defined as an order of merit given to those considered to help spread and develop social and public, as well as philanthropic activities in various ways.
The rank ranges from the first class to the fifth class. Currently, the first class Grand Cordon is called the Grand Prize, the second class Grand Officier is the “Special” chest “gold” medal, the third class Commandeur is the Gold medal with crown, the fourth class Officier is the Gold-laurel silver medal, and fifth class Chevalier is the Laurel silver medal.
In the past, prominent Japanese persons in various fields were awarded the decoration, including Mr. OKAMOTO Taro, a painter, and Mr. MIFUNE Toshiro, an actor.