"Mr. Otsuka, you are a true friend of France," said Mr. Charles-Henri Brosseau, the Consul General of the French consulate in Kyoto, Japan, in fluent Japanese, to the late Chairman Akihiko Otsuka* on November 18 of last year.
The occasion was a momentous ceremony held at the Rihga Royal Hotel in Osaka to present Mr. Otsuka with the Officer Order of the Legion of Honor on behalf of the President of France.
The Order of the Legion of Honor was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It is France's highest award, and is bestowed in times of peace and war on military personnel and private citizens who have made great contributions to France in areas such as culture, science, industry, business, or creativity.
Mr. Otsuka was awarded the Order for his work promoting the Japan-France relationship through his extensive business activities in France over many years.
The ceremony consisted of an awards presentation speech by Mr. Charles-Henri Brosseau and then the actual presentation of the award, followed by an acceptance speech by Mr. Otsuka.
Everyone present, including top Otsuka Group executives, offered Mr. Otsuka their heartfelt congratulations, and many congratulatory messages were sent to the ceremony by persons not in attendance.
Otsuka Holdings President, Mr. Tatsuo Higuchi, opened the banquet that was held following the awards ceremony with a toast "To Chairman Otsuka, and the continued development of the Otsuka Group".
I am deeply honored to receive, from a representative of the President of France, France's highest award, the Officer Order of the Legion of Honor. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to you all.
In our efforts to contribute to the better health of people worldwide, and to continue our evolution into an international total health care company, the Otsuka Group has been actively expanding our business in Europe.
Specifically, most of our investments in Europe have been in France, which has become an important base of operations for the Otsuka Group. We feel that we have been rewarded for energetically pursuing new business opportunities in the field of medicine and foods and beverages while retaining our respect for and desire to learn from the traditions and culture of France, in our efforts to help the citizens of France realize the universal desire of people everywhere for improved health.
Our business activities in France have played such a prominent role for the Otsuka Group thanks to the support and cooperation of many people, including the government of France, for which we are truly grateful. Thinking back on the history of our operations since their initiation in France to the present day, being chosen to receive this most honorable award fills me with emotion and gratitude.
The Otsuka Group intends to continue working to promote creative business activities and to do our utmost to maintain and improve Japan's relationship with France. It is my sincere wish that we can all continue to work together to improve this relationship, and I look forward to your further guidance and encouragement in the future. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Today has been a great honor.
I am honored to stand before you today to present the Officer Order of the Legion of Honor to Mr. Akihiko Otsuka, a leading Japanese industrialist and international businessman - and a close friend of France.
Mr. Otsuka's company was founded in 1921 in Tokushima, Japan, and is now one of the most prominent business groups in Japan in the fields of pharmaceuticals, nutrition, and cosmetics.
Mr. Otsuka joined the company in 1960. After holding various positions at Otsuka Group companies, he became the President of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. in 1976, and in 2008 was appointed the Chairman and CEO of Otsuka Holdings. 2008 was an important year for the relationship between France and the Otsuka Group, as this was the year that Otsuka Pharmaceutical acquired Nutrition et Santé and Alma.
The Otsuka Group has made considerable contributions to France's economy and has created many jobs in France. Thanks to Mr. Otsuka, the Otsuka Group has strengthened its French operations, and the Otsuka Group currently employs close to 2500 people in France and is among the leading Japanese investors in France.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical's French subsidiary, which markets human pharmaceuticals in France, had only 10 employees when it was founded in 2004, but it now employs eight times that many. In 2006, Otsuka's Abilify received the Prix Galien award, which is given for the development of a pharmaceutical product with groundbreaking therapeutic efficacy. Nutrition et Santé, which was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceutical in this same year, manufactures functional and nutritional food products.
I would like to take this opportunity to once again praise the special relationship France has with the Otsuka Group, a relationship that has resulted in many past success stories, and one that I have no doubt will lead to many successes in the future as well.
Mr. Otsuka, you are a true friend of France. This is evident from the Otsuka Group's enthusiasm for participating in events held by the French Embassy. Otsuka Group senior management has made every effort to forge solid, high-level relationships with French government officials, including the French Ambassador to Japan and officials at the Invest In France Agency.
Through the partnership the Otsuka Group has created with French industry, Mr. Otsuka has emphasized two things that the peoples of both of our countries have in common: finding value in work, and the enjoyment of life.
The government of France would like to express its gratitude for all the hard work of every Otsuka employee, for your actions as the head of the company, and for the contributions that you have made to foster the relationship between our two countries. Mr. Otsuka, on behalf of the President of France, I hereby award you the Officer Order of the Legion of Honor.