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Press Release No. 35 | 3 July 2015
Two Women Build Bridges Between Japan and Germany

DFG's Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize Awarded to Miyoko Motozawa from University of Tsukuba and Gesine Foljanty-Jost from University of Halle-Wittenberg

Professor Miyoko Motozawa, a specialist in family and social law, and Japanologist Professor Gesine Foljanty-Jost have been chosen as the winners of the 2015 Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). They receive the award for their many years of successful and dedicated scientific work, which has made a significant contribution to academic exchange and mutual understanding between Germany and Japan. "We are delighted to honour two outstanding individuals who strengthen bilateral relations through enormous personal commitment and extensive network-building – at the level of scholarship, the training of early career researchers, committee work and policy advice," says DFG Vice-President Professor Katja Becker, chairperson of the jury. The prize, worth €10 000, will be presented on 7 October 2015 in Bonn.

An example for how science builds bridges and lastingly enriches the relationship between Germany and Japan is the work of jurist Miyoko Motozawa from the University of Tsukuba. Since the mid-1970s she has been investigating various aspects of German family and social law, such as divorce law, pension rights adjustment in pension insurance and questions relating to parental leave and child-raising allowance. Motozawa spent two years at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law in Munich, where she carried out qualitative interviews with many different people in the German nursing care insurance industry. Based on this data, in 1996 she published a highly regarded monograph, which was analysed with great interest by Japanese policymakers and used as the basis for an amendment of Japanese nursing care insurance.

As an interdisciplinary jurist with a well developed professional network, Miyoko Motozawa has organised a large number of seminars and congresses both in Japan and Germany, bringing together representatives of economics, social sciences and medicine to discuss issues such as social law and nursing care insurance from a holistic perspective. She is currently establishing an international, interdisciplinary research centre dedicated to the worldwide issue of "Global Ageing".

Also Gesine Foljanty-Jost has been dedicated to dialogue and cooperation between Germany and Japan for decades, making a significant contribution to social sciences research in Japanese studies in Germany. For many years she has been member of the board of the German Association for Social Science Research on Japan (VSJF), founded in 1988. She has also served as a member or in advisory or executive roles in bilateral institutions such as the German-Japanese Forum, the Japanisch-Deutsches Zentrum Berlin and the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo.

Gesine Foljanty-Jost, who received a doctorate in political sciences, was appointed professor at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg in 1992. There she established a chair of Japanology, which she has continually developed to become a hub of Japanese studies in Germany. She has initiated important university partnerships between Germany and Japan with the universities of Senshu, Tokyo, Waseda, Dokkyo and Tsukuba. She also established the DFG-funded International Research Training Group "Transformation in Civil Society. A Comparison Between Japan and Germany" in cooperation with the University of Tokyo. Japanese environmental policy has been a focal point of her work – her articles on the subject in the 1990s stimulated debates in German environmental policy. In 2013, in recognition of her contribution to academic relations between Japan and Germany, the Japanese government presented Foljanty-Jost with the Order of the Rising Sun.

The Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize of the DFG has been awarded generally every two years since 1997 to Japanese and German researchers. The prize honours special achievements in all scientific disciplines, but is awarded alternately in the humanities and social sciences (including law and economics) and the natural sciences (including biosciences and medicine).

The prize money comes from a fund set up by Eugen and Ilse Seibold. Marine geologist Eugen Seibold was President of the DFG between 1980 and 1985. In 1994, he and American environmentalist Lester Brown were awarded the Blue Planet Prize by the Asahi Glass Foundation in Japan. Eugen Seibold and his wife, Dr. Ilse Seibold, established the prize fund with €150,000 of the €400,000 prize money (which makes the Blue Planet Prize the largest environment prize in the world). The proceeds from this fund are used to promote science and understanding between Germany and Japan.

Further Information

For more information about this year's prizewinners and a look back at previous winners, please visit:

DFG programme contact: