Japanese legal scholar receives Philipp Franz von Siebold Award

The Japanese legal scholar Yuko Nishitani has been selected to receive the 2020 Philipp Franz von Siebold Award in recognition of her contributions to improving mutual understanding of Germany and Japan’s culture and society.

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updated on 8 December 2020


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Ina Lepel, German ambassador in Japan, welcomes Siebold Award Winner Yuko Nishitani and the guests at the Award Winning Ceremony in the German embassy in Tokyo.

The legal scholar Yuko Nishitani has been chosen to receive this year’s Philipp Franz von Siebold Award. Yuko Nishitani’s work stands out for the wide range of her publications on legal history-based, comparative and applied research. She also maintains close professional contact with colleagues in Germany.

Nishitani’s area of expertise is private international law which governs legal relations between individuals. Numerous awards, invitations to give lectures, and memberships in international associations attest to her excellent reputation as a researcher. For example, she was appointed to the Curatorium of The Hague Academy of International Law in 2017 and has represented the Japanese government at the Hague Conference on Private International Law since 2011. This organisation works for the unification of private international law so that everyone can enjoy a high degree of legal certainty in our globalised world and in family and commercial situations that are often connected to more than one country.

After earning a law degree at Kyoto University in Tokyo, Ms. Nishitani obtained her doctorate at Heidelberg University in 1998. Her first position as associate professor at Tohoku University Graduate School of Law was followed by a professorship at Kyushu University. She has been a professor at Kyoto University in Japan since 2015. Her career has been very international, with a special focus on Germany: She conducted research as a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and then returned there in 2009 as a Humboldt Research Fellow. In addition, she is in demand as a visiting professor at many universities in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Traditionally, Germany’s federal president presents the Philipp Franz von Siebold Award to the recipient in Berlin at the Humboldt Foundation’s annual meeting. However, since the annual meeting has been held using a digital format this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the German ambassador in Japan, Ina Lepel, has presented the award to Ms. Nishitani on 8 October.

Jährlich ermöglicht die Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung über 2.000 Forscher*innen aus aller Welt einen wissenschaftlichen Aufenthalt in Deutschland. In weltweit über 140 Ländern pflegt die Stiftung ein fächerübergreifendes Netzwerk von mehr als 30.000 Humboldtianer*innen – unter ihnen 59 mit Nobelpreis.

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