Latest Nobel laureates meet trade and education ministers

2002 Nobel laureates Masatoshi Koshiba and Koichi Tanaka met separately Monday with the trade and education ministers.

“I want to continue to be involved, in one way or another, in our effort to find and nurture seeds of hidden Japanese technology,” Tanaka, a 43-year-old engineer at Shimadzu Corp., told Takeo Hiranuma, the minister of economy, trade and industry.

When Hiranuma broached the matter of a dance Tanaka may have to perform at the award presentation ceremony in Stockholm, Tanaka said, “From what I understand, all I have to do is pose for a photo session as if I am dancing.

“I thought I would take up dancing with this as a good opportunity, but now I don’t have to,” he joked.

Koshiba, meeting with Atsuko Toyama, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, noted the importance of science education based on real experiences.

He was referring to the trend of an increasing number of students being turned off by the natural sciences.

“Science and physics are not interesting if you only learn from teachers’ explanations and reading textbooks,” said the 76-year-old Koshiba, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo. “It is interesting if you do something yourself and get results.

“Also, it is not true that children come to like teachers of certain subjects because they like the subjects. On the contrary, they come to like the subjects because they like the teachers.”

Tanaka shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with an American and Swiss for their contributions to studies of proteins that have paved the way for the development of new medicines and early diagnosis of cancer.

Koshiba shared the Nobel in physics with two Americans. He was honored for his contributions to confirming the existence of cosmic neutrinos by developing a gigantic detector, the Kamiokande, installed at a depth of 1 km in a mine in Kamioka, Gifu Prefecture.

It is the first time the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded Nobels to more than one Japanese in the same year.

The two will attend the award ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10. , the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.