Japan Prize

Fields Eligible

Fields Selection Committee for the 2020 Japan Prize

Chairman Michiharu Nakamura Counselor to the President, Japan Science and Technology Agency
Director, The Japan Prize Foundation
Vice Chairman Kazuhito Hashimoto

President, National Institute for Materials Science

Vice Chairman Kohei Miyazono

Professor, Department of Molecular Pathology
Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo

Members Yozo Fujino

Distinguished Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences
Yokohama National University

Ken Furuya

Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Soka University
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Mariko Hasegawa

President, SOKENDAI
(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)

Masaru Kitsuregawa Director General, National Institute of Informatics
Professor, Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo
Kazuo Kyuma President, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization
Eiichi Nakamura

Endowed Professor, Office of the President and Department of Chemistry, The University of Tokyo

Yuichi Sugiyama

Head, Sugiyama Laboratory, RIKEN Baton Zone Program

Mariko Takahashi

Science Coordinator, The Asahi Shimbun

Masayuki Yamamoto

Director General, National Institute for Basic Biology

(alphabetical order, titles as of November, 2018)



Fields for the 2020 Japan Prize

Area: “Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Engineering”
Field Eligible: “Electronics, Information, Communication”

Background and Rationale:

The successive birth of various technologies in fields of electronics, information and communication has greatly contributed to human society. Its progress has been remarkably fast, and in recent years, we are seeing innovative developments in basic technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, IoT, robotics, semiconductor devices, optical/wireless network and information security. As a result, for example, the accumulation of enormous amount of information and its sophisticated analysis, made possible by the convergence of the physical and cyber space, are beginning to revolutionize the industrial structure and human lifestyle.
It is highly anticipated that such technological advancements will not only facilitate economic development but also resolve societal issues, thereby contributing to the realization of a safe, secure and sustainable society that enables innovative lifestyles.

 Achievement Eligible:

The 2020 Japan Prize in the field of “Electronics, Information, Communication” is awarded to an individual(s) who has achieved scientific and technological breakthroughs, such as the development of essential technologies or systems that have contributed significantly to the creation of new industries, innovations in production technology, the realization of a safe and secure society, and improvements in amenity of life, as well as advances in basic science and technology that are highly likely to promote the further development of society.

Area: “Life Science, Agriculture and Medicine”
Field Eligible: “Life Science”

Background and Rationale:

In recent years, major advances in life science driven by innovative analysis technology have led to the elucidation of many complex yet subtle mechanisms of life.
Today, analysis technologies such as DNA sequencing technology capable of rapidly determining the entire genome information and its gene expression state, genome editing technology that can modify genetic information in a targeted manner, and imaging technology capable of visualizing various layers of anatomy from intracellular organelle to complex brain tissues, have especially become well established and widely accessible, thereby opening up a whole new dimension in the realm of life science.
It is anticipated that progress in the understanding of the foundation of life phenomena while upholding bioethics will contribute toward the welfare of mankind by creating new medical care and bringing about wisdom for sustainable human development.

Achievement Eligible:

The 2020 Japan Prize in the field of “Life Science” is awarded to individual(s) who has made significant contributions to society by achieving scientific and technological breakthroughs, such as the discovery of new life phenomena, proposal of paradigm shifts, and technological innovations that deepen the understanding of biological functions.



The 2019 Japan Prize

Area: “Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Engineering”
Field eligible: “Materials Production”

Background and Rationale:

The discovery and development of new materials with non-conventional properties and the development of advanced production technologies have brought about numerous innovations, thereby contributing greatly to the sustainable development of our society and to the improvement of safety in social infrastructure.
For instance, we have designed and synthesized artificial materials, such as semiconductors, polymers, nanomaterials, catalysts and magnetic materials with new functions, as well as new types of super heat-resistant materials and high-specific-strength structural materials.
We have also developed new industrial technology, such as design and manufacturing technologies supported by computational and data science, high-resolution/high-precision measurement techniques and nanostructured precision control processes, along with robot technology that improves the efficiency of production processes. 
  In order to make effective use of finite resources and build a sustainable society for the future, we are in need of epoch-making innovations in the development of new functional materials and structural materials, as well as in industrial design, production and operation technologies.


Achievement Eligible:

The 2019 Japan Prize in the field of “Materials Production” is awarded to an individual(s) who has made momentous scientific and technological breakthroughs by developing materials with new functions, developing new structural materials that support social infrastructure or improving technologies for industrial design, production and operation, which enable the creation of new products, services and industries that improve the quality, safety and security of people’s lives, thereby making a significant contribution to the sustainable development of society or to its potential for great advances in the future.

Area: “Life Science, Agriculture and Medicine”
Field eligible: “Biological Production, Ecology”

Background and Rationale:

As we experience a population explosion and face global environment changes, most notably global warming, overcoming environmental and food problems is critical for the sustainable development of our society. To achieve this, we must protect the environment, which is the cradle for biological production, and at the same time, increase its bioproductivity and ensure the ecologically harmonious use of biological resources.
Developments thus far have included advances in production technologies, the creation of environmentally adaptive breeds, the realization of environmentally harmonious biological production, as well as the harnessing of organisms’ ability to produce useful substances, and the enhancement of functionality in foods.
There is also a great need for the advancement of basic science and technological innovation in such areas as the conservation and restoration of the environment and the ecosystems, sustainable utilization of ecosystem service, and ecological forecasting.
In the future, collaboration across various fields, such as geoscience, the social sciences and the health/human life sciences, will be crucial in tackling the issues of biological production and utilization, ecology and the environment, which cannot be solved independently by any one discipline.


Achievement Eligible:

The 2019 Japan Prize in the field of “Biological Production, Ecology” is awarded to an individual(s) who has contributed significantly to the sustainable development of a society in harmonious coexistence with life and the environment, or to its potential for great advances in the future, through the establishment of innovative new concepts and the creation, development and dissemination of scientific and technological breakthroughs pertaining to biological production, as well as through advances in the basic sciences in ecology and the environment.


Schedule (2020-2022)

The fields eligible for the Japan Prize (2020 to 2022) have been decided for the two research areas, respectively.
These fields rotate every year in a three year cycle.
Every year the Fields Selection Committee announces the eligible field for the next three years.

Physics, Chemistry, Informatics, Engineering Area Life Science, Agriculture and Medicine
Eligible Fields Year Eligible Fields
Electronics, Information, Communication 2020 Life Science
Resources, Energy, Environment, Social Infrastructure 2021 Medical Science, Medicinal Science

Materials, Production

2022 Biological Production,
Ecology/ Environment

More about the Japan Prize

2016 Japan Prize Press Conference

30 Years of Japan Prize

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