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Press Release No. 4 | 5 February 2009
Outstanding Promoters of Understanding between Japan and Germany

DFG to Award the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize to a Japanologist from Heidelberg and a Law Professor from Tokyo

Professor Makoto Ida, a professor of law from Tokyo, and Professor Wolfgang Schamoni, professor emeritus of Japanese studies from Heidelberg, have been selected to receive the 2009 Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). This award is given in recognition of their contribution to the advancement of science and mutual understanding between the two countries. The prize, which is financed through a fund donated by the former President of the DFG, Eugen Seibold, and his wife, is worth 10,000 euros to each recipient and will be conferred for the seventh time this year.

"Makoto Ida and Wolfgang Schamoni are not only well known in their own countries or subject areas for being outstanding academics; they also enjoy an excellent reputation in the other country and each has made a very significant contribution to intercultural understanding between Germany and Japan," said the President of the DFG, Professor Matthias Kleiner, of the new recipients of the Seibold Prize. They were selected unanimously by an award panel from a shortlist of candidates consisting of nominees put forward by German and Japanese research organisations, research institutes, scientific associations and former winners of the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize.

Makoto Ida is a professor of law who has had a major impact on the dialogue between Japan and Germany on the subject of law for many years, and is expected to continue to do so for many years to come. Born in 1956, Ida is a professor of criminal law and medical law at the Keio University Law School in Tokyo, where he has made a name for himself primarily for his studies in criminal law. His colleagues view him as being "the outstanding Japanese expert on criminal law". His particular interests, apart from criminal law and criminal procedure law, are in politically topical areas such as environmental protection and business criminal law. In this area he has repeatedly analysed and proposed solutions for Japanese legal problems on the basis of approaches and findings of legal research in Germany, which he became familiar with in the 1980s and 1990s, when he made several research visits to the universities of Nuremberg-Erlangen and Cologne. The resulting contributions to his subject area, resulting from his expertise and the combination of the two legal systems, not only stimulated academic debate amongst Japanese criminologists, but have also been adopted by the Japanese legal system. As an expert on both Japanese and German law and due to his excellent German language skills, Professor Ida is often invited to give lectures and publish papers in Germany. He has already received numerous distinctions for his services to academic exchange between Japan and Germany, for instance with the award of the Philipp Franz von Siebold Prize by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2006.

Wolfgang Schamoni is regarded not only in Germany, but also throughout Europe, as one of the leading researchers and academics in the field of modern Japanese literature. Born in 1942, Schamoni was the first exchange student to visit Japan from the Seminar for Japanese Studies at the University of Bonn, which was also his first visit to Japan. He spent two years studying and doing research in Japan, a period that had a decisive impact on his future career. In 1985 Schamoni established the Seminar for Japanese Studies at the University of Heidelberg, which he remained the head of until he retired in 2007. Through his many studies and his seminal translations of Japanese literature and ideological history from the second half of the 19th century until the late 20th century, he was the first to create a forum for these topics in Germany. His work has also enabled the general public to gain a deeper insight into cultural and intellectual life in modern Japan. In doing so, Schamoni has always been very meticulous, with a keen eye for the historical, cultural and social context and high expectations - also of himself - with regard to dealing respectfully with the literature and culture of the country being studied, making him a much sought-after partner for dialogue amongst Japanese scientists and intellectuals. The great appreciation he enjoys in Japan became evident in 2005, when he was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. He continues his ongoing dedication to intellectual and cultural understanding between the two countries even after his retirement two years ago.

The DFG's Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize has been awarded biennially to Japanese and German researchers since 1997. It is awarded to one Japanese and one German recipient in recognition of exceptional achievements in all fields of research, although it rotates between the humanities and social sciences (including law and economics), and the natural sciences (including the life sciences and medicine).

The prize is financed from a fund donated by Eugen and Ilse Seibold. Marine geologist Professor Eugen Seibold and U.S. environmentalist Lester Brown were jointly awarded the "Blue Planet Prize" by the Japanese Asahi Glass Foundation - at 400,000 euros the world's most prestigious and valuable environmental prize - in 1994. Eugen Seibold, who was the President of the DFG from 1980 to 1985, and his wife, Dr. Ilse Seibold, donated 150,000 euros of the prize money to the DFG for the establishment of a fund. The proceeds from the "Eugen and Ilse Seibold Fund" now serve to promote research and understanding between Germany and Japan.

The award ceremony will take place on 6 May 2009 at 5 p.m. at the Redoute in Bonn.

Further Information

Further information on the recipients of the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize is available from:

General information about the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize can be downloaded at:

Contact at the DFG Head Office:

  • Dr. Ina Sauer,
    Tel. +49 228 885-2724,
    Ina.Sauer@dfg.de