Following a long and distinguished career in the music industry, Kei Ishizaka has been awarded the Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon by the Japanese government.

Ishizaka is currently the Chairman/CEO of trade body the Recording Industry Assoc. of Japan (RIAJ), and was chairman of Universal Music Japan until Nov. 1, when he was replaced by Kaz Koike.

The Medal of Honor is a major accolade in Japan and has different color ribbons attached to it with blue being among the most prestigious. It was the first ribbon put into place for the Medal of Honor in 1882. Other recipients of the Medal of Honor with this ribbon include Shoichiro Toyoda, a previous chairman of Toyota Motors, and Masaru Ibuka, a co-founder of Sony Corporation.

Ishizaka received the award in recognition of his contribution to the development of the music industry and Japanese music culture. He is the third RIAJ chairman to receive the medal of honor from the government while in office.

Ishizaka began his career in the music industry in 1968 in the international music department at Toshiba Musical Industries (which changed its name to Toshiba-EMI), a joint venture between the major Japanese electronics company Toshiba and EMI.

In 1994 Ishizaka left Toshiba-EMI to head PolyGram K.K, the forerunner of Universal in Japan. During the past 15 years, Ishizaka has built Universal into an industry leader in Japan with strong domestic repertoire.

In a statement Ishizaka said, "It is a great honor for me to receive the Medal of Honor with Blue Ribbon, since I entered the world of the music business some 40 years ago, I have been engaged in activities to promote the works of creative Japanese artists and introduce great foreign music works to Japanese people. And I am very happy to have played a part in introducing the rich Japanese music culture to other countries."

He added, "Music and other culture business are a barometer to gauge the power of a nation. I hope to further promote exports of Japanese music as one of the nation's major forms of content with support from the government and the people concerned."