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Culture Forms a Bridge between Japan and Germany


The Japanese theatre scholar, Professor Tatsuji Iwabuchi, and the Director of Japanese Studies at the University of Bonn, Professor Josef Kreiner, are this year’s winners of the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize in recognition of their contributions to the advancement of sciences and mutual understanding in both countries. This is the fifth time that the prize, which is worth €10,000, has been awarded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation).

The exhibition "Japan’s Beauty – Japan’s Soul", held in 2003 in the Federal Art and Exhibition Hall in Bonn, is just one of several cultural events through which Professor Josef Kreiner contributed to a better understanding between the two countries. His research and fieldwork focus on Japanese village organisation as well as on Ainu culture in northern Japan and on the Ryukyu Islands.

Between 1988 and 1996 Professor Kreiner was the founding director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies, and he now heads the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Bonn. He has received the Special Award of the Japan Foundation, the German Federal Cross of Merit (First Class), an honorary doctorate from the School of Social Sciences at Kwansei Gakuin University as well as the Japan Foundation Award.

Professor Tatsuji Iwabuchi’s translations and theatrical productions have made works from both classic and modern German literature known to Japanese theatre audiences and university students. His translations and productions of the works of Bertolt Brecht and Heiner Müller have not only set standards for the literary adaptation of European dramas; they also represent a new chapter in the history of Japanese theatre. In addition to the German Federal Cross of Merit (First Class), he was also granted an honorary doctorate by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the Austrian Medal for Science and Art as well as the Lessing Translation Award of the Federal Republic of Germany for his translation of the collected works of Bertolt Brecht. Before his retirement he taught at the Gakushuin University in Tokyo, where he holds an honorary professorship.

The prize is named after the marine geologist and former DFG president, Professor Eugen Seibold, and his wife, Dr. Ilse Seibold. The couple donated €150,000 for the establishment of a fund to finance the prize. The fund is part of the world’s highest award for environmental research, the Japanese Asahi Glas Foundation’s "Blue Planet Prize". This award, worth €400,000, was granted jointly to Eugen Seibold and American environmentalist Lester Brown. The Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize is awarded every two years to one German and one Japanese scientist whose outstanding academic achievements have contributed to better understanding between the two countries.

The prize will be awarded on 28 April 2005 at the German Museum in Bonn.

Jutta Höhn | alfa
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