- the Japanese government awarded the order to Lébl for his contribution to strengthening economic relations between Japan and the Czech Republic
- the order was presented to him by Japan’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Kaoru Schimazaki, on 27 November 2018
- Japan ranks among the most significant investors in the Czech Republic
For his contribution to strengthening economic relations between Japan and the Czech Republic, Josef Lébl, one of the founders of CzechInvest, has received from the Japanese government the Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Rays and Neck Ribbon. The order was presented to him by Japan’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Kaoru Schimazaki, on Tuesday, 27 November 2018. Josef Lébl continues to work for CzechInvest as an expert advisor.
In 1992, then Minister of Industry and Trade Vladimír Dlouhý tasked Josef Lébl with the establishment of the Czech Agency for Foreign Investment CzechInvest, later renamed as the Investment and Business Development Agency CzechInvest. The agency was founded on 1 November 1992. Lébl has served as an advisor to the CEO of CzechInvest since 1993 and was present at the inception of the vast majority of Japanese investment projects in the Czech Republic, such as those of Panasonic, Toyota, Denso, Daikin, Shimano, Toray, Hitachi and many others.
“The first major Japanese investment in the Czech Republic was that of television manufacturer Matsushita Electric Industrial, or Panasonic, in Plzeň in 1996. We had been negotiating that deal with the Japanese since June 1995,” says Josef Lébl, recalling the investment project that opened up the Czech Republic to many more Japanese investors. “In the 1990s, I spent several months a year in Japan negotiating with investors.”
By 2017, CzechInvest had arranged 137 investment projects of Japanese firms in the aggregate value of CZK 127.9 billion, making Japan the second-biggest foreign investor in the Czech Republic behind Germany.
The Order of the Rising Sun was established by Emperor Meiji in the 19th century. It is awarded for outstanding contribution in the fields of international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, development of prosperity and protection of nature. Significant foreign recipients of the order include, among others, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, John McCain and Antonio Guterres. Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská was awarded the order in 2010.