Hideki Matsuyama made history earlier this month when he became the first man from Japan to win the Masters tournament and the first male major golf champion from his country.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga honored Matsuyama "for bringing courage and hope to the disaster-hit areas" close to the 10-year anniversary of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in the deaths of roughly 18,000 people and destroyed areas of northeastern Japan.
"You have continued to encourage the affected areas, marking the 10th anniversary of the disaster, and you have great courage," Suga said. "While contributing greatly to the progress of sports in Japan, the achievement of communicating the importance of efforts to all the people and giving them dreams and hopes is truly remarkable."
Matsuyama wore the green jacket presented to him after his triumph at Augusta National during the ceremony. He also vowed to "work hard to win a gold medal in Tokyo" during the Summer Olympics that were pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 through Aug. 8.