Newly crowned 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama has received a personal message of congratulations from Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan.
Aoyama won his first world title, and the last ever in the 250cc class, at the season-ending Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Scot Honda rider claimed four victories and a further three podium finishes. The 28-year-old Japanese will move to MotoGP in 2010.
Aoyama said of the honour: "When I was told that I received a letter from the Prime Minister of Japan I couldn't believe it. It's a great honour and I'm very proud. Nowadays motorcycle sport is not so popular and I was really happy to know that the Prime Minister watched the race and wrote a letter addressed to me. I still haven't realised that I won the World Championship and to receive such an important letter makes me realise the importance and the echo of this."
The message can be seen below:
"Mr. Hiroshi Aoyama
"We congratulate your World Champion title in FIM Road Racing World Championship.
"We believe that the World champion title is the evidence of accumulation of your everyday effort
"We also would like to congratulate very important persons, supporter, family, and team members.
"Japanese athletes' activities in the world will give a dream and hope to young generation in Japan.
"We strongly wish your continuous success in your activity.
The Prime Minister"