The foundation said the crews had risked their lives to save others by struggling to keep the radiation disaster from spreading.
It singled out three specific groups of workers: employees of the TEPCO company that operated the plant, firefighters that worked to keep the plant cool, and armed forces personnel who used helicopters to splash the plant with water, inspect it from the air, cordon off an exclusion zone or evacuate people.
The statement said that those involved represent "the highest values of the human condition."
"The behavior of these people also incarnates the most deeply rooted values in Japanese society, such as the sense of duty, personal and family sacrifice in the interest of the common good, dignity in the face of adversity, humility, generosity and bravery," the statement said.
The Prince of Asturias awards are handed out yearly in eight categories including arts, literature, communications and scientific research.
The one announced Wednesday is the last this year. It corresponds to a category called Concord and goes to a person or people who stand out in their work toward goals like peace or their fight against woes like injustice, poverty or sickness.