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Emperor awards high order to former minister

Japan's Emperor Akihito will decorate former Economics Minister Joseph Deiss with one of the highest orders he can bestow, the economics ministry said on Monday.

Deiss, who served as Switzerland's economics minister from 2002-2006, actively sought to better economic ties with Japan, travelling there while also serving as president in 2004.

That year he helped to negotiate a free trade agreement that both countries are expected to sign next year.

For those efforts the emperor will award Deiss the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun at a ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 5.

"It is a fitting recognition of his long years of work behind the scenes for our country," Economics Minister Doris Leuthard said in a statement. "The distinction also shows that Japan attaches great importance to its excellent cooperation with Switzerland."

Switzerland exported SFr6.7 billion ($5.78 billion) to Japan and imported SFr3.5 billion in Japanese goods in 2007. Switzerland's direct investments in the country totalled nearly SFr12 billion by the end of that year.

Deiss is now director of a San Francisco-based high-tech firm, OpenTV.


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