Former J-League head Kawabuchi, novelist among cultural award recipients

Saburo Kawabuchi, who played a key role in the launch of Japan’s professional football league, and novelist Nanami Shiono were among seven people selected as this year’s recipients of Japan’s top cultural award, the government said Friday.

Kawabuchi, an 86-year-old former president of the Japan Football Association and inaugural chairman of the J-League, is known for his contribution to the development of the Japanese sports community overall. He has also been instrumental in the founding of the professional basketball league in Japan.

Shiono, also 86, has worked on historical pieces such as “The Story of the Roman People,” a serial publication featuring ancient Rome that she spent 15 years to complete.

Other recipients of the Order of Culture are calligrapher Keido Ishige, 87, economist Katsuhito Iwai, 76, immunologist Tadatsugu Taniguchi, 75, organic chemist Kohei Tamao, 80, and traditional art Kyogen performer Nomura Mansaku, 92.

Nomura is designated as a national living treasure in Japan and has also performed overseas.

An additional 20 were selected as Persons of Cultural Merit, including Rei Kawakubo, 81, fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garcons, actor Kinya Kitaoji, 80, manga artist Machiko Satonaka, 75, and contemporary artist Tadanori Yokoo, 87.

The Order of Culture award will be presented to the recipients at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Nov. 3, the country’s Culture Day. A ceremony will be held for Persons of Cultural Merit recipients on Nov. 6 at a hotel in Tokyo.

By Muhammad Umair