Award Ceremony 2003

The Fukuoka Prize 2003 Award ceremony

September 18, 2003 (14:00 - 16:15)
Fukuoka International Congress Center Main Hall

The Prize Presentation Ceremony for the 14th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes 2003 began with attendance by approximately 1,000 people, including Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino, representatives from the embassies of the laureates' countries, exchange students in Fukuoka, guests from international exchange organizations, business circles, universities, and local organizations as well as the citizens of Fukuoka City.

Following an introduction of the laureates' profiles on a video screen, the organizing committee presented the laureates with their prizes. Congratulatory addresses were made by guests, H. E. Mine Yoshiki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Aso Wataru, Governor of Fukuoka Prefecture praising the laureates' contributions. Each of the laureates then expressed their joy upon receiving the prizes in their acceptance speeches and shared their views with the citizens of Fukuoka City. A special music performance by "BEGIN," the Okinawan music band added an extra touch to the ceremony.

Acceptance Speech by HOKAMA Shuzen (Grand Prize)

My academic discipline is called the Okinawan studies. The name may sound unfamiliar to you, but it is treated equally with other disciplines such as Japanology, Sinology and Egyptian studies. This year exactly falls on 100 years from its birth and it was surprising news to hear the Fukuoka Asian Culture Preze would be given to the Okinawan studies. Being an individual researcher, too, the honor is more than I deserve.

I hear that the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes were created by the City of Fukuoka, which has promoted cultural exchange within Asia for over 2,000 years, by adding its own creativity suitable to a new age.

History teaches us that culturally rich countries boast prosperous politics and economy too.

During the 14th and 16th centuries, Asian countries went through a turbulent history. Because of this turbulence, people in country awoke to self - awareness, attempted national independence and self - reliance to create the birth of dynasties. There were the Muromachi Shogunate in Japan, the Lee Dynasty in the Korean Peninsula, the Ming Dynasty in China , the Ayutthaya Dynasty in Thailand, the Majapahit Dynasty in Indonasia, and the Malacca Dynasty in Malaysia. It was the Ryukyu Dynasty that played the role to bridge those dynasties. Wherever a dynasty was formed, a unique culture was born and flourishied.

After five hundred years, present  Asia straggles desperately to pursue the ethnic independence, achieve economical wealth, and search for a peaceful era. The whole of Asia must be peaceful by the 21st century.

Europe foumed the European Union in prepartation for the 21st century. Asia should be united as the Asian Union. In order to do that, culture is indispensable as a bese of people’s mentality. I believe that any Asian issues are cultural issues.

I learned that the City of Fukuoka and the Yokatopia Foundation created this prize program 14 years ago.

It certainly was an idea full of intelligence and superiority anticipating the coming of the 21st century. I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the City of Fukuoka and the Yokatopia Foundation.

Before closing, please let me express my sincere thanks to Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino, Mayor of the City of Fukuoka, Chairman of the Yokatopia Foundation and all other people who have come here to attend this Prize Presentation Ceremony.

Acceptance Speech by Reynaldo C. ILETO (Academic Prize)

In 1965, when I  was 18 year old, I had the opportunity to traevel outside the Philippines for the first time.

I accompanied my sister and my grandmother on a 10 - day tour of Japan. Little did I know that this trip would be a turuning point in my life. At that time I was a university student majoring in engineering. But what I saw and experienced in Japan so enchanted me that when I returned to Manila, I decided to abandon engineering. Instead I dicided to devote the rest of my university days to the study of the history and culture of Asia.

Thirty eight years later ,Iam here in Fukuoka City to recieve the most prestigious international prize in Asian Studies. This prize is all the more meaningful to me because of the role that my first visit to Japan played in my decision to study Asian history and culture instead of engineering.

The most unique and commendable feature of the Fukuoka Prizes, form my perspective, is that they have given recognition to artists and scholars form within Asia itself. When I first studied Asia, such international recognition to home - grown scholars from within Asia itself. When I first studied Asia, such international recognition to home - grown scholar was almost unheard of. For example, when I decided to pursue my doctoral studies in 1967, I had to go to the United States to be trained in Southeast Asian history.My mentors were two pioneering Englishmen who had served in the British Empire. At that time prectically all the superstras in the field of Southeast Asian Studies were Europeans or Americans. It took me some time to see the irony that "success" in the study of my home region was measured in terms of how well I absorbed the intellectual culture and paradigms of Westerm, rather than local, pioneers of Asian Studies.

Unlike in the 1960s, tody students from Southeast  Asia do not have to rely solely on models from the West, not do they have to journey to England or America, to study their own region. But it has not been an easy task to give local scholarship its due and to make Southeast Asia the center for the study of itself. The Fukuoka Prize Awards have made this task so much easier by giving explicit recognition to Asian scholarship and giving special emphasis to communications among Asians themselves.

Not just for the Preze you have bestowed on me, but also for helping to make Asian Studies in Asia a reality, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to th people of Fukuoka.

Acceptance Speech by XU Bing (Arts and Culture Prize)

About ten years ago, my mother visited my siblings and I in America. It was not long after my siblings and I had moved to America and had been facing language difficulties. As we discussed the new task of speaking English, my mother had only one thing to say: “You have your own mother tongue. Behind you is the world’s most glorious culture. You should never feel inferior to anyone.” My mother is a typical traditional Asian lady. She is kind – hearted, does not complain and works hard. She is also very proud of the culture in her homeland. I thank my mother for giving me the necessary courage and attitude to work in the West.

 Traditions in China were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and the country did not provide our generation with strict education about culture. However, culture is at times carried down generations through people’s speech and behavior which respond to subtle happenings in their daily lives. The most important part of this is using ‘the heart,’ never ‘knowledge.’

I once created a book called “Book from the Sky.” It is exquisite but means nothing. I spent four years designing 4,000 non – existent fake Chinese characters. Upon completion, everybody praised me saying, “You are terrific! You have patience.” However, when I took an old book to be printed at a printing factory, I lay eyes on a breathtaking mountain of original wooden – forms for the Buddhist sutra. The sight captured me and made me realize culture had survived powerfully like this I had no idea of what was written in the sutra, but was able to take in the essence of culture in it. I felt ashamed of myself, utterly realizing what a tiny existence I was in comparison to a magnificent culture of history. Over the last few years some people have criticized me for using my Chinese background to promote myself. I say that “I am Chinese. If I don’t use my Chinese background, then who should I sell myself as? Why must I always play other people’s games?” With the West’s dominating position in today’s global culture, eve people’s most basic perspectives are skewed. However, the people of Fukuoka and its cultural communities have always faced the world with a proud and positive attitude towards Asian Culture. I, too, believe in the originality and universality of people and culture in Asia. A great culture, I believe, is the mixture and amalgamation of various cultures.

Finally, I would especially like to thank the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize Committee for awarding me this important prize. I believe this prize will be an encouragement for my future work.

Acceptance Speech by Dick LEE (Arts and Culture Prize)

When I came to Japan in 1990 for my first concert tour, Asian music existed in music stores here in limited selections, and were classified under "Traditional" or "Ethnic" categories.

My album, The Mad Chinaman, was a crazy  amalgamation of tradicional and modern, but my interntion was to create pop music tha tmade strong reference to the multi - ethnic music of th diverse culturs of my country of birth, Singapore. And like the official language of my country, I sang in English.

As there was no Asian pop music in the stores, my album could be dound in the World Music and Western pop music in the stores, my album could be found in the World Music and Western Pop Music departments, and, interestingly enough, even in the domestic J - pop section of the store. I was very happy to see that my music dified cassificaiton, an event which I flet brought me one step closer to my lifelong goal of presenting my work with a strong Asian identity.

Of couse I knew I was Asian, but I was also Straits - born Chinese (with Malay roots) as well as Singaporean. The iame I had of Asia at the time was dusty and antiquated, and had little to do with the way the world was changing. On top of that, I learnt during that first tour here, that the Japanese view of Asia was also limited and out - of touch, something which I wanted to set right.

I ahd spent most of my musical career until that point trying to find myself and make may nusical statiment as an Asian, and to a certain degree I had some success with my Singaport - themed songs, but my visiti here inspried me to take my search one strep further. I wanted to define my music an an Asian , and unwittingly set off a new trend in all things Asian and most importantly, Modern Asia, the Asia of today.

The subsequent years in Japan saw an explosion of interrapidly est in out continent, and my success in this country led to my working in other Asian cities like Hong Kong and Taipei. This opened my eyes to how repidly Asian cities were growing and changing and how much we neede to reshape out image of ourselves to build our own self - confidence, and also to present a contemporary and positive image to the world.

Events and awards like today's have helped tremendously in supporting this development, and I am extremely honored to be standing here, in my favorite part of Japan, Kyushu. I am grateful to the city of Fukuoka and th committee for awarding me with this prestigiou prize, and most of all, I deeply appreciate the fact tha twork in my particular genre, Pop Culture, is finally recognized as contributing to the advancement of Asian idntity.

I humbly thank youk, ladies and gentleme, and wish all the best for the future of this imprtant event.

Celebration Banquet 2003

September 18, 2003 (18:30 - 19:30)
Hotel New Otani Hakata "Tsuru-no-ma" room

The honorable laurates and their accompanying persons received a warm welcome from approximately 230 guests who attended the banquet.

Representing the organizers, Mr. Kawai Tatsuo, Chairman of the Yokatopia Foundation delivered his greetings and H. E. Mr. Choo Tai Soo, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore served as the toastmaster on behalf of all the distinguished guests.

The banquet proceeded in a fiendly atmosphere where laureates and guest enhanced their firedship.

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