The award, which honours a person who has made a major personal contribution to shipping and the maritime industry, was presented at the Seatrade Awards in the City of London's Guild Hall in front of an industry audience of over 350 attendees.
Introducing the award, Seatrade chairman Chris Hayman said, "I feel absolutely sure that we have found the right winner this evening. He's been a strong and fearless advocate of the core values of the IMO, arguing for it as the sole global regulator against unilateral action, and has supported the implementation of IMO conventions including of course the Ballast Water Management Convention."
Taking the stage and accepting the award with a heartfelt speech without notes, Sekimizu opened: "I worked for the Japanese Ministry of Transport for 12 years, and I came to London in 1989. I served the IMO for 26 years and why I continue to work for IMO is a good question.
"I was born in 1952, a very important year for my home country of Japan. Finally the San Fransisco peace treaty had come into force over Japan, and Japan was turned back to the international community. In that year Japan applied for membership of the UN system. Four years later in 1956 Japan became a full member of the UN. Always I have though that I am a boy in the peace time, and I have always wanted to work for the international community.
"I selected shipbuilding as my profession and then in my answer to my desire to work for the international community came through IMO. I remember when I was looking for job opportunities in the final year of university in 1975 I encountered the name of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO). Who could imagine at that time that that young boy would become 40 years later secretary-general and stand to receive this award?"
"I would like to humbly receive this great award for all of the people who have supported the IMO, including all the staff members of the secretariat and my family, without their support I could not continue. If that is recognition of my work, I would like to receive for all the persons who supported me, and I would like to devote this honour to my wife."
Sekimizu announced last year that he would not be seeking re-appointment to his position after it ends in 2015, as he wishes to care for his wife who has a health issue.
The secretary-general closed the evening by stressing the importance of IMO as a global regulator, and the significance to industry of regulating on a global scale, and resisting unilateral moves by port and coastal states.