Tennessee's Howard Baker gets Japan's highest honor for foreigners

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker has received Japan's highest civilian honor for foreigners.

The Tennessee Republican on Thursday received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers for his service as U.S. ambassador to Japan from 2001 to 2005.

The Washington, D.C., correspondent for the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Baker described the honor as a "high point" of his life.

Baker said that since World War II the U.S. and Japan have not only become allies and friends but "perhaps the best friends between two major countries."

Among those attending the ceremony at the Japanese ambassador's Washington home were former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, who was Baker's campaign manager in 1972, and Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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