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717 individuals, 29 organizations to be honored with fall medals

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Arimasa Osawa

The government on Wednesday published a list of 717 individuals and 29 organizations that are to receive this year’s autumn decorations for their contributions to society. Of the individuals, 158 are women.

The Medal with Purple Ribbon, which honors individuals with outstanding achievement in academic studies, arts, sports and other fields, will go to nine people this year, including popular novelist Arimasa Osawa, 66, and University of Tokyo Prof. Kazushige Obara, 62. The number of recipients for the medal is the fewest since the honors system was reformed in 2003.

The Medal with Yellow Ribbon, which recognizes people in various fields who have dedicated their lives to their occupations, will be awarded to 242 individuals, of whom 16 are women, while the Medal with Blue Ribbon, for those who have worked to further the common good in such fields as welfare and education, will be given to 442 individuals, of whom 128 are women. The Medal with Red Ribbon, which honors those who have made substantial efforts to save people’s lives, will be given to seven individuals and two organizations, and the Medal with Green Ribbon, for those who have devoted their lives to social service activities, will be given to 17 individuals and 27 organizations. Of the 17 individuals, 14 are women, including braille translator Naoko Okabe, 73.

A hard-boiled devotee

Since his debut 43 years ago, Arimasa Osawa has written more than 100 works in the genre of hard-boiled fiction. “Really? Do I deserve it?” were his first words after hearing he would receive the Medal with Purple Ribbon.

“I don’t think what I write is literature. There are many writers who take more pains and work harder than me. Maybe there’s a fan of hard-boiled fiction among the judges,” Osawa said with a laugh.

He was slow to progress as a writer when he started out, so that some even called him “a perennial first-edition-only writer” due to his modest sales. As fellow writers such as Kenzo Kitakata were gaining attention, Osawa says he “stopped thinking about complicated things.” Then his police novel, “Shinjukuzame” (“Shinjuku Shark”), published 11 years after his debut, became a big hit. It has been serialized, and the twelfth work in the series, “Heishi” (Black stone), will be released later this month.

“Basically, hard-boiled stories are not about a perfect hero but a weak and timid person working their butt off with clenched teeth. I suspect that sort of thing happens in everyone’s life,” he said.

Osawa’s works range from detective stories to science fiction works.

“I will continue writing what I want to write,” he said. “I’ll be content if my contemporaries read them for two or three hours and forget their worldly sorrows.”