Nobel laureate, baseball legend among the top 9 recipients of cultural awards from the Order of Culture of Japan

This file photo shows Japanese-American scientist Syukuro Manabe giving an interview at his New Jersey home on October 5, 2021, after winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) – Nobel Prize-winning climatologist Syukuro Manabe and iconic former baseball player Shigeo Nagashima were among nine people selected as recipients of the Order of Culture of Japan this year, announced Tuesday the government.

Kabuki actor Onoe Kikugoro VII, 79, molecular biology researcher Tsuneko Okazaki, 88, Japanese tanka poet Hirohiko Okano, 97, anthropologist Junzo Kawada, 87, painter Koji Kinutani, 78, and 70-year-old mathematician Shigefumi Mori also received the most prestigious cultural award. Ballet dancer Asami Maki, who died at the age of 87 last Wednesday, was also named the recipient.

Manabe, 90, shared this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics with Italian Giorgio Parisi and German Klaus Hasselmann for designing a model for predicting climate change, establishing the theory that an increase in carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere was the cause of global warming.

“I am extremely delighted that more than 60 years of climate research has become the cornerstone of current research on global warming,” he said in a statement after being shortlisted for the culture award.

Nagashima, 85, was a superstar of the Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team, the most popular player of his generation, and went on to lead the team. He was also supposed to lead the Japan national team at the 2004 Olympics before being replaced for health reasons. He is only the second athlete to receive this award, after Olympic freestyle swimmer Hironoshin Furuhashi.

Kikugoro is a leading player in the world of Kabuki and has been certified as a Living National Treasure in Japan.

Maki was artistic director of the New National Theater in Tokyo and fostered the development of talent in the world of Japanese ballet. She died after agreeing to accept the award.

The recipients will receive the Order of Culture at the Imperial Palace on November 3, the country’s Culture Day.

Another 21 people were selected as people of cultural merit, including singer and actor Yuzo Kayama, 84, host Yoshiyuki Tomino, 79, and Manabe who was also shortlisted for this award.

They will receive the award at a Tokyo hotel on November 4.

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