Photo/IllutrationYoshiharu Habu, left, and Yuta Iiyama will receive the People's Honor Award. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Two record-breaking board game champions are to receive the People's Honor Award for the first time since it was established more than 40 years ago.

They are “shogi" champion Yoshiharu Habu, 47, and go champion Yuta Iiyama, 28.

Announcing the awards at his regular news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, "Through their historical achievements, the two have provided many Japanese people with inspiration and dreams, and they have brought bright hope and courage to society."

Both Habu and Iiyama have swept up all of the major titles in their respective games over the past few years.

In December, Habu became the first shogi pro to gain the "eisei" (eternity) honor in all seven major titles. That honor is only given for each title after a player has met certain conditions, such as the number of consecutive titles won or the overall number of times the player has held the title.

Habu said Jan. 5: "I am thankful for the prestigious award. I want to express my feelings of gratitude toward my family who have continued to support me. I hope to continue to move forward while trying to overcome my own personal limits."

Iiyama said, "While this is an honor, I feel that I still have a long way to go so I believe I am receiving it with expectations about my future achievements."

The People's Honor Award will be presented to Habu and Iiyama at a special ceremony scheduled for Feb. 13 at the prime minister's office.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe floated the idea Dec. 13 of granting the award to the two, and a formal decision was made after hearing the opinions of experts.

Habu in 1996 became the first professional in either shogi or go to monopolize all seven major titles at the same time.

Iiyama became the first go player to hold all seven major titles simultaneously in 2016. While he lost one of those titles, he later recaptured it, and currently holds all seven titles together again.

The People's Honor Award was established in 1977 to recognize individuals who through their outstanding achievements have won public acclaim and brought hope to society.

To date, 23 individuals and one group have won the award.