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2020 Japan Prize Press Conference

Press Conference announcing the
2020 (36th) Japan Prize laureates
February 4, 2020 Ladies and gentlemen, welcome
to the press conference for the announcement of 2020
(36th) Japan Prize laureates. The Japan Prize came into being
during the early 1980s following the government’s desire to create a
prestigious international prize for science and technology that would express
Japan’s gratitude to international society, to which many people donated
and was established in 1983 with a cabinet endorsement. When I look back over the lineup of
96 laureates honored during the past 35 years of Japan prize
and their achievements, I am strongly reaffirmed
that the pedigree records of Japan Prize recipients reflect the
history of world peace and prosperity brought about by the advancement
of science and technology. Please allow me to announce
the 2020 Japan Prize Laureates. In the field of “Electronics,
Information, Communication”, the award goes to Professor Emeritus,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof. Robert G. Gallager. His achievement is: Pioneering contribution to
information and coding theory Next, in the field of
“Life Science”, the award goes to Director, Department of
Evolutionary Genetics Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Anthropology, Dr. Svante Pääbo. His achievement is: Pioneering contributions to paleoanthropology
through decoding ancient human genome sequences This year’s Japan Prize will be
awarded to these two laureates. LDPC (Low-Density Parity-Check) codes proposed by Prof. Gallager
boasts high reliability, and as well as
being adopted in the 5th-generation mobile
communication system (5G), is an important technology for high
speed, large capacity communications. Currently, Japan is aiming to lead
the world in the realization of Super Smart Society (Society 5.0),
the high integration of cyberspace and the physical
space (the real world). LDPC codes are expected to play an
essential and fundamental role in achieving this goal,
and is being adopted as we speak. Now what we find in the
internet society is, communication is everywhere,
computers are everywhere, the internet is everywhere, and what I did as a
graduate student which was useless then is very useful now. So I’d like to tell all of you people
who would like to do research, don’t necessarily be upset at the
idea that what you do is not useful, because perhaps it
will be useful later. Do something which is
novel, which is interesting, and what you hope will
be useful in the future. Dr. Pääbo analyzed a large
number of DNA fragments, mapped them to a modern
human reference sequence like a jigsaw puzzle,
and determined the the sequence of 3 billion
base pairs long nuclear DNA. His analysis of nuclear DNA
showed that 1 to 4% of the total DNA of modern humans
is inherited from Neanderthals. Prof. Pääbo’s DNA analysis using
ancient bones have revolutionized the paleoanthropological
research of exploring the origin of modern humans. Having contributed significantly
to the field of paleoanthropology, he continues to
expand the horizons of paleoanthropological
genomic research and nurture the next
generation of researchers. It’s indeed very rewarding
to see that a study of ancient DNA now contributes to
many different research fields. So I humbly accept
the Japan Prize as a recognition of
these new possibilities and of everyone who
has contributed. I would like to thank the
selection committee and everybody involved very
much for this great honor. Thank you very much.

Robin Kshlerin