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Home > Media Reiews > News Review Last Updated: 14:52 03/09/2007
News Review #79: November 5, 2002

Japan's newest star: a chemist

Reviewed By Hitoshi URABE

"Japan's newest star: a chemist"
(By Jonathan Watts) Christian Science Monitor


Last Sunday, November 3 was a holiday in Japan. It was "Culture Day," which is defined in the Holidays Law, as one of the fourteen holidays, to be "the day to respect freedom and peace, and promote culture."

The almost meaningless definition of the day has a bit of history. It was the birthday of the Emperor Meiji, the great grandfather of the present Emperor Akihito. The celebration of his birthday had been sustained as such until after WWII, when the Allied Occupation Force felt it necessary to erase any remnants of Imperialism, which some claimed had induced militarism in Japan that lead to commencing of the war. It thus acquired the name "Culture Day" obscuring the historical background of the day. It did, however, succeed in avoiding controversies and making it just another day off for most of the people.

It might also worth noting that November 3, 1946 was the day the present Japanese Constitution was officially promulgated, which was to, and did, come into force on May 3 the following year.

A number of official events take place on Culture Day, and the most notable is the ceremony to present The Order of Culture Awards, held in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, where the emperor himself presents the Decorations to the winners.

This year, six people received the award. All have made "extraordinary contributions to develop the Japanese culture" as described by the Decoration Bureau, and indeed, all are admired in respective fields for their achievements. Nevertheless, it was Koichi Tanaka who was undoubtedly the focus of the ceremony, a 43 year-old Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry this year, shy and polite, who have won the hearts and minds of just about everyone here.

The article introduced above very effectively describes the people's reactions and behaviors during the while since Mr Tanaka was announced a winner of this year's Nobel Prize. The story is written with good understanding of Japan's culture as well as sympathy and respect toward Japanese people. It is a good writing, which would provide an insight into some key aspects of Japanese sentiment.

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