Carl A. Accardo, director of the MIT Japan Office, has been awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Rosette, by the Japanese government. The award is one of the most prestigious honors conferred on foreigners.
Accardo, 74, who is a senior advisor to the director of the Office of Corporate Relations, was honored for "his contribution to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between the United States and Japan." He is one of seven Americans living in the United States to receive the award this year.
"To say the least, I am humbled by the honor and find it remarkable that my work as an industrial liaison officer could have such an impact," said Accardo, who is a member of the Japan Society of Boston. "I have come to know hundreds of Japanese researchers, corporate officials, government leaders and university leaders, and I assume my relationships with Japan and its people played a role in the award process."
Previous MIT recipients were former presidents Paul E. Gray and Jerome B. Weisner, and professors Koichi Masubuchi of ocean engineering and material science, Samuel A. Goldblith of food science and technology and George H. Bï¿½ï¿½chi of chemistry.
"Distinguished company, I must say," Accardo remarked.
Accardo, who earned the S.B. in physics from MIT in 1948 and a graduate degree from New York University, initially pursued a career in nuclear and space science. He returned to MIT in 1986 in the Industrial Liaison Program and assumed the responsibility for overseeing relations with many leading Japanese corporations.
"At the time, I didn't know much about the country except that my brother was stationed there as a Marine officer and often spoke of Japan with affection," Accardo said. "I welcomed the opportunity MIT gave me to get to know the Japanese people myself."
In the past 16 years, he has visited Japan many times to organize seminars for Japanese companies and establish the annual MIT in Japan Symposium. Constantly networking, he also arranged for Japanese researchers to come to MIT and for MIT students to pursue their interests in Japan.
"My door is always open," Accardo said. "I have affection for the Japanese people and enormous respect for their technical prowess." He has studied Japanese and "understands a lot," although he is not fluent.
Accardo will receive the award on Dec. 3 in a ceremony at the official Boston residence of the Consul General of Japan. Shortly after that, he will go to Japan for the fifth annual MIT in Japan Symposium on Jan. 17.
The award announcement said: "He has participated in hundreds of meetings with officials and researchers of Japanese companies in an effort to create and maintain productive relationships between them and MIT's faculty and staff. His office provides Japanese companies with information materials relevant to their particular interests, and is instrumental in producing a Japanese edition of the MIT Report that is distributed online to member companies."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 20, 2002.