The Shigemitsu Award for Global Cultural Exchange is named for Shigemitsu Mamoru and is presented every year on the 18 of December, the day Japan became the 80th member of the United Nations in 1956 after an address delivered by Shigemitsu.

Shigemitsu Mamoru (重光 葵)  was born in what is now part of the city of Bungo-ōno Ōita Prefecture, Japan. He graduated from the Law School of Tokyo Imperial University in 1907.  After World War I, he served in numerous overseas diplomatic assignments, including Germany, the United Kingdom, briefly as consul at the Japanese consulate in Seattle, Washington in the United States.  Following the Mukden Incident, Shigemitsu was active at various European capitals attempting to reduce alarm at Japanese military activities in Manchuria. During the First Shanghai Incident of 1932, he was successful in enlisting the aid of western nations in brokering a cease-fire between the Kuomintang Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. However, on April 29, 1932, while attending a celebration for the birthday of Emperor Hirohito at Lu Xun Park in Shanghai, a Korean independence activist, Yoon Bong-Gil threw a bomb at a reviewing stand killing General Yoshinori Shirakawa and wounding several others, including Shigemitsu.  Shigemitsu lost his right leg in the attack, and walked with an artificial leg and cane for the rest of his life.

He later became ambassador to the Soviet Union, and in 1938 negotiated a settlement of the Russo-Japanese border clash at Changkufeng Hill. He then became Japan's ambassador to Great Britain during a period of deteriorating Anglo-Japanese relations resulting in the abrogation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, until he was recalled home in June, 1941. Shigemitsu was highly critical of the policies  of Foreign Minister Yosuke Matsuoka, especially the Tripartite Pact, which he warned would further strengthen anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. Shigemitsu spent two weeks in Washington, D.C. on the way back to Japan from England, conferring with Ambassador Kichisaburō Nomura and attempting unsuccessfully to arrange for direct face-to-face negotiations between Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe and US President Franklin Roosevelt.

Shigemitsu’s attempts to stave off World War II angered the militarists in Tokyo, and only two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Shigemitsu was sidelined with an appointment ambassador to the Japanese-sponsored Reorganized National Government of China. While in China, Shigemitsu argued that the success of the proposed Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere depended on the equal treatment of China and other Asian nations with Japan. On April 20, 1943, in a move that was viewed as a sign that Japan might be preparing for a collapse of the Axis Powers, Japan's Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō fired foreign minister Masayuki Tani in favor of Shigemitsu, who had been steadfast in his opposition to the militarists. He was thus foreign minister during the Greater East Asia Conference. The American press often referred to him in headlines as "Shiggy." From July 22, 1944 to April 7, 1945 he served as Minister of Greater East Asia in the Koiso administration, and again briefly in August 1945 in the Higashikuni administration.

As a civilian plenipotentiary, along with General Yoshijirō Umezu, Shigemitsu signed the instrument of surrender on September 2, 1945. Despite his  well-known opposition to the war, at the insistence of the Soviet Union, he was taken into custody by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and held in Sugamo Prison under charges of war crimes. Despite a signed deposition by Joseph Grew, the former ambassador of the United States to Japan and over the protests of Joseph B. Keenan, the chief prosecutor, Shigemitsu’s case came to trial and he was convicted at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment on Counts 29, 31, 32 and 33 for waging “an aggressive war”. He was paroled in 1950.

Shigemitsu served as Foreign minister from 1954 until 1956 under the 1st through 3rd Hatoyama administrations. He represented Japan at the 1955 Asian–African Conference held in Indonesia, marking the first return of Japan to  participation in an international conference since the League of Nations. The following year, he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, pledging Japan’s support of the founding principles of the United Nations and formally applying for membership. Japan became the 80th member of the United Nations on December 18, 1956. Shigemitsu also travelled to Moscow in 1956 in an attempt to normalize diplomatic relations and to resolve the Kuril Islands dispute. The visit resulted in the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956.  The following year, Shigemitsu died of Angina pectoris at the age of 69, at his summer home in Yugawara, Kanagawa.


Previous Shigemitsu Award Recipients

2018
Photo Copyright Timothy Greenfield-SandMidori Midori's music and personal grace have brought Japan, America, and the world closer together. Midori began touching audiences with her debut at the New York Philharmonic at age 11. She has since performed throughout the world for more than thirty years. Extending her generosity and art to children, Midori has her own foundation supporting music education in America and Japan: Midori and Friends, and established MUSIC SHARING in Japan, which brings global musicians together to share classical music with young people who may not have the opportunity otherwise. Midori is a UN Messenger of Peace and received the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Midori has performed with dozens of the world's finest orchestras and produced nearly twenty acclaimed albums. She has held the Jascha Heifetz Chair as a Distinguished Professor of Violin at the University of Southern California since 2004. In 2018, Midori will join the eminent faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music.

2015
Kim Phuc - Ms. Phan Thi Kim Phuc is a Vietnamese-Canadian peace activist and founder of the Kim Phuc Foundation, who has dedicated her life to aiding refugees and worldwide victims of war, especially young children.  She was introduced in international news media on June 8, 1972, by a photograph of her as a nine-year-old child running naked and terrified from her burning home in the village of Tran Bang, South Vietnam, following a napalm bombing attack. She had been so severely burned that it took numerous operations over many years to restore her to health.  The famous photograph, taken by AP photographer Nick Ut, appeared on the front page of the NY Times, won a Pulitzer Prize, and played an important role in bringing the Vietnam War to an end.  As an adult, Phuc converted to Christianity, studied briefly in Cuba, married and in 1992 sought political asylum in Canada.  In 1997, she established the first Kim Phúc Foundation in the U.S., with the aim of providing medical and psychological assistance to child victims of war.  Later, other foundations were set up, with the same name, under an umbrella organization: Kim Phúc Foundation InternationalShe has received many awards, honorary degrees and other commendations in Canada, and now speaks regularly at global peace events advocating aid for children victimized by warfare.

2014
Shigeru Ban - World renowned Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban first won international attention for his innovative work with cardboard tubes as a structural element.  He is also widely known for his humanitarian work of designing and constructing fast, efficient shelter for victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami.  Since 1995, Ban and his team have contributed shelters and other relief materials to post-disaster victims in Japan, Africa, Turkey, China, Italy, Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.  Born in Tokyo, Shigeru Ban studied architecture at Tokyo University of Arts, and later at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York.  He currently maintains active architectural offices in Tokyo and Paris, and works on major international commissions.  In 2014, Shigeru Ban was named the 37th recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the most prestigious award in modern architecture.  The Pritzker Jury cited Ban for his innovative use of material and his dedication to humanitarian efforts around the world, calling him "a committed teacher who is not only a role model for younger generation, but also an inspiration."

2012
Professor Amartya Sen - Renowned Indian economist and philosopher, born in Santiniketan near Calcutta, who, since 1972, has taught and worked in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as in India.  In 1998, Professor Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his many contributions to welfare economics, social-choice theory, economic and social justice, and indices for measuring the well-being of citizens of developing countries.  Other major international awards include Bharat Ratna (India); Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur (France); the National Humanities Medal (USA); Ordem do Merito Cientifico (Brazil); Honorary  Companion of Honour (UK); the Aztec Eagle (Mexico); the Edinburgh Medal (UK); the George Marshall Award (USA); the Eisenhower Medal (USA); and the inaugural Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize of the Royal Academy of the UK.  In 1998, Professor Sen was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, becoming the first Asian head of an Oxbridge college.  In 2004, he became the Thomas W. Lamont Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University.  He is a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and also served for a decade as Chancellor of Nalanda University in India.

2011
Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara Throughout most of his 65-year medical career Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara was known as Japan’s most distinguished doctor and writer on medical subjects.  Since 1941, he was active as a physician at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, an institute he served for many years as Chairman later in his career.  He also founded and headed St. Luke’s College of Nursing.  Thanks to his pioneering spirit and administrative skill, Dr. Hinohara turned these institutions into Japan’s top medical facility and nursing school.  Dr. Hinohara received his first medical degree from Kyoto Imperial University’s College of Medicine in 1937, and later studied briefly at Duke University in the U.S.  He was responsible for many innovations in Japanese medical practice, including universal annual medical checkups called “human drydock” and other forms of preventive medicine that helped make Japanese society the world leader in longevity.  Beginning in the 1950s, Dr. Hinohara fostered many medical exchanges between Japan and American, European and Asian medical establishments.  He also found time to author more than 150 books in Japanese and a play for children.  Dr. Hinohara passed away in July 2017 at the age of 105.

2010
Seiji Ozawa Japan’s most distinguished classical musician, Seiji Ozawa has conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras.  He is perhaps best known for his 29-year tenure as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1973 to 2002.  He has also served as music director or principal conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony, the NHK Symphony, and the Vienna State Opera.  In addition to these positions, he founded the New Japan Philharmonic in 1972 and the Saito Kinen Orchestra (Saito Memorial Orchestra) in 1984; the latter project was undertaken as an act of homage to Hideo Saito, his mentor at Toho Gakuen conservatory.  In 1992, Ozawa launched the Matsumoto Festival, which quickly became a highlight of Japanese musical life.  In 1994, the Boston Symphony Orchestra honored him with the creation of Seiji Ozawa Hall, one of the principal venues of the BSO’s summer festival at Tanglewood.  Mr. Ozawa has received many top international music awards and in 2001, he was recognized by the Japanese government as a Person of Cultural Merit.  In October 2008, Ozawa was honored with Japan's Order of Culture, and received this award from the Emperor at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.  His recordings have received several Grammy Awards, and Ozawa is also a recipient of the 34th Suntory Music Award, the title of Chevalier de Légion d'Honneur of the government of France; in 2015 he was celebrated at the White House as a Kennedy Center honoree.

2009
Peter Grilli - Raised in Japan as a young child, Peter Grilli was immersed in Japanese culture since childhood, eventually leading to his focus on Japanese studies as an adult and a professional career in Japan-U.S. cultural exchanges.  He received his BA and MA degrees in East Asian studies at Harvard University, and also studied at Waseda University and Tokyo University.  He worked as an editor of books on Japan at Weatherhill in Tokyo and New York.  From 1975 to 1986, he was Director of Education, Film and Performing Arts at the Japan Society of New York, and was responsible for major presentations of Kabuki theater at the Metropolitan Opera House, of the Bunraku puppet theater, and other productions of traditional and contemporary Japanese performance.  He later headed the Japan Project at PBS and the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University.  He served as President of the Japan Society of Boston from 2000 to 2013, and continues to remain active as its President Emeritus, responsible for the Society’s Shigemitsu Award program.  Mr. Grilli is also known for his documentary films on Japan, including SHINTO: Nature Gods and Man in Japan; Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese Garden; Toru Takemitsu: Music for the Movies; Akira Kurosawa; and Paper Lanterns.

2008
Dr. Kenneth Butler - A longtime teacher of Japanese language, the late Kenneth Butler was the founder of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies.  Born in Oregon in 1930, Butler received his BA in Chinese from the University of Chicago and his MA and PhD in Japanese studies from Harvard University; he later studied at Tokyo University and taught Japanese at Yale University.  Dr. Butler established the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in 1967 to provide high level Japanese-language training at the advanced level for outstanding students from major American universities.  Over more than five decades, more than 1,000 students have completed the intensive language program at the Inter-University Center, and many of them occupy positions of leadership in academic studies of Japan as well as in business, public service and diplomacy, journalism, cultural activities, and other professional disciplines.  Dr. Butler passed away in Tokyo in 2009.

2007
Professor Donald Keene Professor Donald Keene is one of America’s most distinguished scholars of Japanese literature and culture.  Born in New York, Professor Keene began his study of Japanese language and literature at Columbia University.  Most of his professional academic career was spent at Columbia, and the university honored him with the creation of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture in 1985.  He is known as a leading translator of Japanese classical and modern literature, and has written more than 50 books in English on subjects relating to Japanese culture; an even greater number of his books have appeared in Japanese.  His books include a four-volume history of Japanese literature; several anthologies of classical and modern literature; translations of the works of Chikamatsu, Zeami, Osamu Dazai, Yukio Mishima, and many other Japanese writers; biographies of the Emperor Meiji and Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa; and several personal memoirs.  After nearly six decades on the faculty of Columbia University, Professor Keene assumed Japanese citizenship in 2011 and moved to Tokyo, where he continues his research, writing and translation.

© 2017 Japan Society of Boston, Inc  |  50 Milk Street 18F, Boston, MA 02109  |  617-514-7345  | Info@JapanSocietyBoston.org