Scottish Judo veteran honoured by Emperor of Japan

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Image caption, George Kerr's honour comes after a lifetime of achievement in the sport

A Scottish pensioner who is one of the country's top judo experts is to be honoured by the Emperor of Japan.

George Kerr, 73, has said he is "thrilled to bits" after learning he is to receive the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan's highest awards.

The honour recognises Mr Kerr's contribution to the sport and to UK-Japanese relations.

Mr Kerr, from Edinburgh, achieved Judo's 10th Dan in February, a title held by only five other people.

Speaking about being given the Order of the Rising Sun, Mr Kerr said: "Of course, I'm thrilled to bits, it's quite an honour. I think I'm the first judo player in Great Britain to receive this sort of thing, so it's really nice.

"It's been a brilliant year. It's blown me away. The whole thing's been like a fairytale to be honest."

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette was announced in Emperor Akihito's November honours list.

Mr Kerr, who runs a judo club for youngsters in Edinburgh, said the honour would be presented to him formally at the home of the Japanese Consul-General, Masataka Tarahara, in January.

'Outstanding contribution'

Other famous names awarded the Order of the Rising Sun include movie legend Clint Eastwood.

Mr Kerr said: "I was quite pleased that one of my heroes, Clint Eastwood, has got it as well. He does portray the kind of values that I stand for."

In a statement issued by the Consulate General of Japan in Edinburgh, Mr Tarahara said: "He is the most deserving recipient whose contribution to the promotion of judo over many decades has been outstanding."

Mr Kerr began practising judo when he was eight, won a scholarship to study judo in Japan and won the gold medal in the 1957 European Championships.

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