2020 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award goes to Yuko Nishitani of the of the Graduate School of Law (8 October 2020)

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Ambassador Lepel and Professor Nishitani

On 8 October, Professor Yuko Nishitani of the Graduate School of Law received the 2020 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award, conferred by the Federal Republic of Germany, at a ceremony hosted by the German embassy in Tokyo.

The Siebold Award was established in 1978 to promote Japan-Germany academic exchange, and has since annually recognized contributions by a Japanese scholar to mutual understanding of culture and society between the two countries. Professor Nishitani became the ninth KyotoU-affiliated awardee, the first one being Dr Shosaku Numa (1929-1992), who graduated from and taught at the Faculty of Medicine.

The award is normally presented in person by the German President at the official residence in Berlin, Belluvue Palace, during the annual meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the 2020 ceremony took place in Japan with Ambassador Ina Lepel serving as the presenter.

Comments from Professor Nishitani

I am extremely honored to be recognized with such a prestigious award, for which I would like to thank all those who have supported me in my work and life over the years: researchers, institutes, and foundations in Germany, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy. I am especially grateful to my colleagues at Kyoto for their generous assistance with all aspects of my research.

My areas of specialty are international private law, which deals with cross-border relations between private individuals, and international business law. My interest in international relations burgeoned at a relatively young age, perhaps because of my upbringing in Germany as a young child. As a researcher, I have always aspired to work side by side with scholars from different parts of the world, and to publish papers of international impact. These ambitions have driven me to this day to strive to make steady contributions to legal scholarship, whether I am in Japan or abroad. Now I find it incredibly rewarding to see my efforts being acknowledged in this manner.

My current research interests include the transformation of nation states and legal pluralism in the context of globalization, immigrant identity and international family relations, and the social responsibility of multinational corporations. As a Siebold Award recipient, I will redouble my efforts in all these areas of inquiry, and would like to ask everyone concerned for continued support and guidance.

About the awardee

Professor Nishitani graduated from Kyoto University's Faculty of Law in 1992, and competed a master's program at its Graduate School of Law in 1994. She then went on to the school's doctoral program, but withdrew in 1997. She earned her doctorate in the following year from Heidelberg University, Germany.

As a student, Nishitani received scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst or DAAD) from 1994 to 1997, and from the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science for multiple years, beginning in 1994. She was also a Fulbright scholar from 2003 to 2004 and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow from 2009 to 2011.

Her international research experience has included working in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States.

In 1997, Nakatani was appointed an associate professor at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Law, and in 2011, a professor at the Kyushu University Law School. She assumed her current position at the KyotoU Graduate School of Law in April 2015.

As a visiting professor, Nakatani has taught at: Duke University, the United States; the University of Louvain, Belgium; the University of Zurich, Switzerland; the University of Brescia, Italy; Tel Aviv University, Israel; Judges Academy, Taiwan; and the Hague Academy of International Law, the Netherlands.

Her professional responsibilities have also included serving as a subcommittee secretary at the Legislative Council of Japan's Ministry of Justice, and representing the Japanese government at the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Presently, Professor Nishitani is a member of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) and of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL), an executive council member of the Japanese Society of International Law (JSIL), a councilor for the Private International Law Association of Japan (PILAJ), a council member of the Japan Association of International Economic Law (JAIEL), and a curatorium member of the Hague Academy of International Law.

Reasons for the award

Professor Nishitani is cited for her active engagement with legal scholars from numerous countries — including not just Japan and Germany but also the United States, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy — as well as for her seminal achievements and contributions in a broad range of related fields.

Professor Nakatani is anticipated to continuously contribute to the promotion of international academic exchange, while inspiring and fostering the next generation of researchers.

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