Govt decides to honor Habu, Iyama

Yomiuri Shimbun photos

Yuta Iyama, left, and Yoshiharu Habu

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government decided Friday to grant the People’s Honor Award to shogi master Yoshiharu Habu, 47, and Go board game champion Yuta Iyama, 28.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reported the decision to the day’s Cabinet meeting. It will be the first time for a shogi or Go player to receive the honor.

The award ceremony will be held on Feb. 13 at the Prime Minister’s Office.

On Dec. 5, Habu became the first shogi player to have won the “eisei” lifetime honor for all seven major titles, excluding the newly created title of Eio.

Iyama recaptured the Meijin title in October last year, achieving the feat of holding all seven major Go titles for the second time.

“Habu and Iyama made historic achievements, bringing dreams and excitement to the public, and hope and courage to society,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a liaison meeting of the government and the ruling bloc, held after the Cabinet meeting.

Abe also said he hopes that they will continue to perform well.

Until now, the People’s Honor Award, established in 1977, has been granted to 23 individuals and one group. These include athletes and people in the arts, such as composers and actors.

The government said last month that it was considering granting the award to the two professional board game players, and then asked experts for advice before finalizing its decision.

“I think I was named the winner of the award thanks to the history established by a number of shogi forerunners,” Habu said in a statement. “I hope to cooperate with Iyama in developing the traditional cultures of shogi and Go, and pass them on to future generations.”

“I wonder if I deserve this prestigious award, because I still have a long way to go as a Go player,” Iyama said in a separate statement. “I understand that the decision to award me the honor reflects the government’s expectations for my performance in the future.”Speech

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