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Nobel laureate Hideki Shirakawa will be among the six people to receive this year’s Order of Culture from the Emperor at the Imperial Palace on Culture Day on Nov. 3, government officials said Tuesday.

The five other recipients are sinologist Tadao Ishikawa, 78; leather craftswoman Fukuko Okubo, 81; calligrapher Kason Sugioka, 87; organic chemist Ryoji Noyori, 62; and actress Isuzu Yamada, 83. It is the first time for two women to receive the award at the same time, the officials said.

Shirakawa, 64, won the 2000 Nobel Prize for chemistry together with U.S. physicist Alan Heeger and chemist Alan MacDiarmid for their discovery and subsequent development of conductive polymers. Shirakawa, professor emeritus of the University of Tsukuba, and the two Americans demonstrated that plastics can conduct electricity.

Ishikawa, professor emeritus of Keio University, has contributed to the study of contemporary China in Japan, focusing on the history of the Chinese Communist Party. He is also known for his achievements in university reforms and promoting scientific research.

Okubo, whose real name is Fuku Okubo, has produced various works of art showcasing the unique character of leather, including its warmth.

Veteran calligrapher Sugioka was chosen for his achievements in producing lofty and profound tones in his works. Sugioka, whose real name is Masami Sugioka, is known for expressing human nature in his writings.

Noyori, a professor at Nagoya University, has made important contributions in the field of fine organic compound chemistry.

Yamada, whose real name is Mitsu Yamada, is known for her acting mainly in dramas. She has been a leading actress for nearly 70 years.

The government also selected 16 people who have contributed to culture. The recipients of the culture merit awards include novelist Seiko Tanabe, noh actor Sensaku Shigeyama and psychologist Hayao Kawai.

The 16 winners are expected to attend a ceremony on Nov. 6 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo’s Minato Ward to receive the honors.

Nobelist ‘elated’ again

Nobel laureate Hideki Shirakawa said Tuesday he is elated by the government’s decision to recognize his scientific achievements by awarding him this year’s Order of Culture.

“I never distinguished myself in my studies from kindergarten to university,” he told reporters. “If any young person is encouraged by the fact that a person like me can be awarded the Order of Culture, I would be more than happy.”

Asked if his childhood had anything to do with his career as a scientist, Shirakawa, professor emeritus at Tsukuba University, said, “I was brought up in a relatively carefree environment. While hunting for insects or going for walks, I seem to have developed a keen eye for observing nature.

“Children nowadays do not seem to have such opportunities and I sympathize with them in that sense,” he said. “While it is extremely important to increase such opportunities, what is equally important is how to make use of them.”

Shirakawa, 64, is one of six people who will receive this year’s Order of Culture from the Emperor at the Imperial Palace on Culture Day on Nov. 3.

He won the 2000 Nobel Prize in chemistry together with U.S. physicist Alan Heeger and chemist Alan MacDiarmid for their discovery and subsequent development of conductive polymers.

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