Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe speaks at a dinner Wednesday at the Freer Gallery of Art. (Courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has announced a $1 million gift to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian Asian art museums, to support their ongoing work to promote his country’s art and culture.

The gift was announced during a dinner Wednesday at the Freer that was part of the Japanese leader’s official visit to Washington.

“I would like to express my appreciation to the Freer Gallery of Art for its dedication to Japanese art but also for giving us such a wonderful venue to promote people-to-people exchanges between Japan and the United States,” Abe said.

Abe also announced that Julian Raby, the director of the Freer/Sackler, will be inducted into the Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s highest honors recognizing cultural, international and environmental achievement. Three other 2015 inductees were in attendance and also acknowledged: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Elmer William Colglazier, former science and technology adviser to the secretary of state, and Raymond Shoji Murakami, past chairman of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.

The $1 million grant will fund exhibition, conservation and research at the Freer/Sackler, as well as a forthcoming exhibition of work by Japanese artist Tawaraya Sotatsu, scheduled for October.

The Freer/Sackler owns one of the world’s most important collections of Japanese art. Raby, an expert in Islamic art, has been director since 2002 and has encouraged many collaborations with Japanese institutions.