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04 Jul 2017
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2017 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award goes to Hiroshi Abe of the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies (21 June 2017)

Professor Abe

On 21 June, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation announced that Professor Hiroshi Abe, Kyoto University Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, is the recipient of the 2017 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award.

Now in its 39th year, the annual Award was established in 1978 to recognize outstanding contributions by Japanese scholars to mutual understanding of culture and society between Germany and Japan. It is presented in person by the Federal President to the awardees, and is widely regarded as the highest German award intended for Japanese researchers.

Professor Abe is the seventh KU-affiliated Siebold Award recipient, the first one being Dr Shosaku Numa (1929-1992), who studied and taught at the Faculty of Medicine.

An award ceremony took place Thursday 29 June as part of the Humboldt Foundation's annual meeting at Belluvue Palace in Berlin, the presidential residence.

Comments from the awardee

I am extremely honored and humbled to be recognized with this highly prestigious award, for which I would never have qualified without the guidance of my teachers, friends, and colleagues, and the support of my students. I wish to express my profoundest gratitude to all these people.

My principal areas of research as a scholar of philosophy are 1) phenomenology and Japanese thought, 2) environmental philosophy, and 3) logic and ontology. As part of my efforts in the first two fields, I have had the privilege of teaming with two German colleagues in the interdisciplinary study group, Nature Time Responsibility (NTR), which has organized two conferences to date to examine environmental issues from a theoretical and multicultural perspective.

For these initiatives, the three of us have been selected to receive the 2017 Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives, also from the Humboldt Foundation. I am extremely grateful to see my collaboration with colleagues, in addition to my solo endeavors, being publicly recognized in this manner.

As is widely known, philosophical studies at Kyoto University have long had close connections with Germany. I am committed to striving to contribute the best I can to furthering Japanese-German academic exchange, while also honoring the pioneering contributions of the Kyoto School philosophers.

About the awardee

Hiroshi Abe, born in July 1971, earned a doctorate from the Kyoto University Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies in May 1999, where he then continued his academic career as a research assistant.

He then worked at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), also as an assistant, before returning to Kyoto University to become an assistant professor and then an associate professor. He assumed his current position, professor at the Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, in April 2016.

From April 2011 to July 2012, he engaged in research at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich) with a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

He frequently visits Germany as part of his involvement in NTR and other German-based initiatives, including the "Schellings Philosophie der menschlichen Freiheit" collaborative research project, led by LMU Munich's Faculty of Philosophy with funding from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, or DFG), and the "Hans Jonas Handbook" international publication project at the University of Siegen's Department of Philosophy.

Reasons for the award

Professor Abe is being honored primarily for his outstanding achievements in the field of environmental philosophy, including bridging Eastern and Western perspectives. His other notable efforts include the existential analysis of the responsibility of the current generation to posterity, undertaken based on the work of Martin Heidegger.

In addition to these accomplishments, he is being recognized for his active contributions to research and education in Germany, through frequent collaborations with local scholars and numerous lectures for German audiences, including those funded by the Humboldt Foundation.

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