Graced by the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the second Ikushi Prize award ceremony was held by JSPS at the Japan Academy on 1 March. At the ceremony, 17 young researchers received an Ikushi certificate and medal.
In 2009, JSPS received an endowment from Emperor Akihito on the 20th year of his reign. Amidst a severe economic environment in Japanese society, His Majesty’s desire was to encourage and support young scientists who are working diligently to advance their studies and research. In deference to his wishes, JSPS established the Ikushi Prize program and placed it into operation in FY 2010. It functions to formally recognize outstanding doctoral students who can be expected to contribute to Japan’s future scientific advancement, while seeking to fan their enthusiasm for education and research pursuits.
For this conferral of the second Ikushi Prize, in March 2011 a request to nominate candidates was sent out to 2,703 Japanese universities and academic societies, from which 120 nominations were received by June. Over a 6-month period, JSPS’s Research Center for Science Systems conducted preliminary document and panel reviews on the nominees, upon which the program’s Selection Committee made the final decisions. Meeting on 22 December, the Committee members engaged in a vigorous discussion of the nominees taking into account their current research activities and future potential, finally coming to the difficult decision on which 17 nominees to select for the Prize.
JSPS president Dr. Yuichiro Anzai opened the ceremony with introductory remarks and was followed by Selection Committee chair Dr. Takeshi Sasaki, who reported on the vetting process. Then, Dr. Anzai presented an Ikushi certificate and medal to Mr. Kenichi Ishii, doctoral student at The University of Tokyo, who received them as a representative of all the awardees. This was followed by a congratulatory message from the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), read by Ms. Mieko Kamimoto, MEXT’s parliamentary secretary. The program concluded with a message of appreciation and future resolve on behalf of the awardees by Mr. Ishii.
After the ceremony, a tea party was held at the Japan Academy, in which Their Majesties enjoyed pleasant conversation with Ms. Kamimoto, Dr. Sasaki, and the Ikushi laureates.