UCL News


Professor Sir Michael Arthur awarded Japan's Order of the Rising Sun

4 November 2022

The government of Japan has awarded former UCL President & Provost, Professor Sir Michael Arthur, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star.

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur

The prestigious honour has been bestowed in recognition of Professor Arthur’s significant contribution to promoting academic exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and the UK.

The Japanese government announced the award as part of the 2022 Autumn Conferment of Decorations on Foreign Nationals on 3 November.

The Orders of the Rising Sun, established in 1875 as Japan's first awards, are bestowed upon individuals of merit, in honour of their distinguished accomplishments in various areas of society. The Gold and Silver Star is the second highest class of this Order.

Professor Sir Michael Arthur said: “I’m deeply honoured to receive this award from the Japanese government in recognition of my and UCL’s work on building relationships with Japanese higher education.

“This has been multifaceted, but it builds from the Chōshū Five and from the late Prime Minister Abe’s personal interest in that history and his strong desire for Japan’s universities to further grow their international partnerships. UCL had been a key player in this, especially the close strategic relationships we have with Tohoku University and Osaka University.”

Professor Sir Michael Arthur meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

UCL’s relationship with Japan deepened over many years under Professor Arthur’s leadership (2013 to 2021).

In 2014, Professor Arthur welcomed to UCL Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who gave the keynote speech at the Japan-UK Conference 'Collaboration in Research and Education' co-hosted by UCL and the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

The conference was the first of its kind and was designed to give the leading universities in Japan and the UK the opportunity to showcase their recent efforts in both research and education and discuss future ways to cooperate in these fields.

Following the conference, a joint announcement was issued signalling participating universities' commitment to encouraging mutual exchange between staff and researchers in both countries, the development of new collaborative research links and the creation of joint international curricula.

Professor Sir Michael Arthur and UCL academics at an MoU signing with Osaka University colleagues in 2019

Professor Arthur then visited Japan in 2017 and Mr Abe thanked UCL for its role in helping to educate students from his country.

2023 will be the 160th anniversary of the Chōshū Five - the first Japanese students to study abroad - arriving at UCL in the 19th century.

Upon returning to Japan, the young men – including Hirobumi Ito, Japan’s first Prime Minister - had a radical, transformative effect on the country’s constitution, government, infrastructure and education system.

In April 2022, UCL welcomed His Excellency Hajime Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan, for the first time for a special event celebrating the university’s varied and impactful work with the country.



  • Professor Sir Michael Arthur
  • Professor Sir Michael Arthur with the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
  • Professor Sir Michael Arthur and UCL academics with Osaka University colleagues in 2019

Media contact

Sophie Vinter

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 7787

Email: s.vinter [at] ucl.ac.uk