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Innovative Japan poet bags Japan Foundation prize.

TOKYO, Oct. 4 Kyodo

A Japanese poet credited with pioneering a new style of poetry was named Friday as a recipient of a prestigious award annually given for distinct contributions to cultural exchanges between Japan and the world, award organizers said.

Organizers said they awarded this year's Japan Foundation Award to Makoto Ooka, who had been involved in the development of ''renshi (linked verse).'' The award presented at a Tokyo hotel is shared by Gerald Curtis, a political science professor at New York's Columbia University and a key U.S. scholar on Japan affairs.

Ooka's works, particularly through ''renshi,'' have earned him the reputation of ''cultural emissary'' for Japanese culture and literature and enabled him to engage in various interactions with poets and literary figures at home and abroad.

A literature graduate of the University of Tokyo, Ooka, 71, once taught at Meiji University in Tokyo, chaired the Japan Contemporary Poets Society and received several awards including the Cultural Merit Award in 1997.

The other Japan Foundation awardee, Curtis, 62, burgess professor of political science at the Columbia University, has been cited by Newsweek magazine as one of the 10 leading scholars on Asia in the United States, according to the foundation.

A social sciences graduate of the University of New Mexico, Curtis is a columnist and adviser to two Japanese dailies, the Chunichi Shimbun and Tokyo Shimbun, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the U.S.-Japan Foundation.

Described by the foundation as ''one of the world's most distinguished political scientists knowledgeable about Japan,'' Curtis has briefly studied in Tokyo. His major writings such as ''Policy-making in Japan: Defining the Role of Politicians'' reflect his role as an expert on Japan's policy-making and politics.

Also Friday, the foundation presented three special prizes to the Tokyo-based Japanese Mothers for Foreign Students Movement of the Tokyo YWCA, and two others based abroad -- the Old Japan Students' Association, Thailand (OJSAT), and a Japanese studies department of a Warsaw University institute.

Founded in 1961, the Tokyo-based group has been engaged in volunteer work for exchange students by providing them each with a foster Japanese mother to help them cope with life in Japan, while the Bangkok-based OJSAT, since 1951, has gathered former exchange students to Japan in Thailand to promote Japanese culture there.

Another award recipient and promoter of Japanese-language education and Japanese studies is the Department of Japanese and Korean Studies in Warsaw University's Oriental Studies Institute. The foundation said the department, founded in 1919, has made great contributions as the ''core Japanese studies organization'' in Poland and central Europe.

The Japan Foundation, an organization under the Foreign Ministry that promotes international exchanges, confers two kinds of awards to individuals and organizations every year in recognition of outstanding contributions in fostering cultural exchanges and mutual understanding between Japan and foreign countries.

Japan Foundation Award winners each receive 5 million yen while the special prize recipients get 2 million yen each.

Past recipients include Japan's famed film director, the late Akira Kurosawa.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Oct 7, 2002
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