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Nobel winner Akira Yoshino to focus on environmental issues during acceptance speech

JIJI

Japanese researcher Akira Yoshino, who was named a winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in chemistry, said Monday he plans to highlight environmental issues in his speech at the award ceremony in Sweden in December.

Yoshino, an honorary fellow of major chemicals maker Asahi Kasei Corp. and a professor of Meijo University, revealed the plan at the university in Nagoya.

“Words of a Nobel laureate can be a significant message to the world. I want to speak specifically about environmental issues,” Yoshino, 71, said.

On Monday, Yoshino held a lecture at the university’s graduate school for the first time since he was named a recipient of the prize last week for his contributions to the development of lithium-ion batteries.

All 21 registered students attended the lecture, which was about the history of lithium-ion battery development. After receiving a bouquet of flowers from students, Yoshino said, “I want to continue to listen to the opinions of young people.”

At a news conference after the lecture, Yoshino said, “I keenly feel that issues of the environment and abnormal weather are confronting us,” referring to recent extensive typhoon damage in Japan.

He said he thinks that people who have offered clear answers to environmental issues are likely to receive Nobel Prizes. In Yoshino’s selection for the Nobel Prize, lithium-ion batteries were praised for their contribution to solving environmental problems.

On his coming speech at the award ceremony, Yoshino said, “Representing the industrial world, I want to deliver a speech that is different from those of past recipients.”

“I want to speak about three themes, including environmental issues,” he added.

On the use of electric vehicles equipped with rechargeable batteries that can be used when blackouts occur due to natural disasters, Yoshino said it is possible to tap vehicle batteries for electricity, but added that it will take time for such a system to be widely used.

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