The Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum
was established in 1876 as Japan’s highest order. It originally had only one class -Grand Cordon (Daikuni Kikka Daiju-sho), but in 1888 the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum Chain (Daikuni Kikko-sho Keishoku) was added.
The chain is the highest possible Japanese honour and is awarded only to individuals who have previously received the Grand Cordon (sash). It is restricted to members of the Imperial Family, high nobility, national heroes and foreign sovereigns (in the case of the latter it can sometimes be awarded together with the Grand Cordon).
The Grand Cordon, which was established 12 years before the Collar of the Order, is awarded for exceptionally meritorious achievements. It is usually bestowed upon members of the Imperial House of Japan, foreign royalty who are not reigning monarchs, non-royal Heads of State, and distinguished Japanese Prime Ministers. It is the highest honour a Japanese citizen can receive. Aside from the Imperial Family, only 50 Grand Cordons have been awarded to Japanese citizens since its creation. Today former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone is the only living Japanese subject to have this award.