Inamori Foundation Presents 2019 Kyoto Prizes
Nov 11, 2019

$918,000 Awards Honor University of Rochester Chemist Ching Tang, Princeton Astrophysicist James Gunn, Théâtre du Soleil Founder Ariane Mnouchkine

KYOTO, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In an elaborate ceremony before approximately 1,500 guests here yesterday, the Inamori Foundation presented its 35th Annual Kyoto Prizes, Japan’s highest private awards for global achievement, in the categories of Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.

In Advanced Technology, the 2019 Kyoto Prize was presented to chemist Ching W. Tang, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Rochester, and IAS Bank of East Asia Professor at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. After researching light-emission processes in electrically-driven organic materials, Tang invented a new device structure that facilitates high-efficiency light emission at low drive voltages. This led to practical, organic-based, light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) — a revolutionary technology with broad application in lighting and flat-panel displays, now ubiquitous in products ranging from smartphones to flat-screen TVs.

In Basic Sciences, the 2019 Kyoto Prize was presented to astrophysicist James Gunn, Ph.D., Emeritus Eugene Higgins Professor of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. Gunn’s pioneering achievements include his work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has created the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made. He has played a leading role in the entire project, including its planning, instrument development and data analysis, contributing to the elucidation of our universe’s evolutionary history.

In Arts and Philosophy, the 2019 Kyoto Prize was presented to Ms. Ariane Mnouchkine, founder and director of the Paris-based Théâtre du Soleil, who has introduced new artistic expression through original masterpieces of theater for over half a century. Drawing inspiration from Eastern and Western performance traditions, Mnouchkine continues to create new and innovative art reflecting the methodology of a unique theater organization that eschews hierarchical order.

Each laureate received a diploma, a 20-karat gold medal, and a monetary award of 100 million yen (about US$918,000) during yesterday’s ceremony at the Kyoto International Conference Center. The laureates will give commemorative lectures in Japan on Nov. 11, followed by workshops Nov. 13, before reconvening for the 19th annual Kyoto Prize Symposium in San Diego, Calif., March 17-19, 2020, and Kyoto Prize at Oxford events in Oxford, UK, May 12-13, 2020.

About the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize

The Kyoto Prize is an international award bestowed by the non-profit Inamori Foundation to honor those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of humankind. The Foundation was established in 1984 by Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corporation; honorary adviser to KDDI Corporation; and honorary adviser to Japan Airlines. Inamori created the Kyoto Prize in 1984, in line with his belief that people have no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of humankind and society, and that the future of humanity can be assured only through a balance between scientific progress and spiritual depth. Since 1985, the Kyoto Prize has honored 111 individuals and one group (the Nobel Foundation). More information can be found at

Photos available upon request.
Media contacts:
(U.S.) The Inamori Foundation
Mr. Jay Scovie

(JAPAN) The Inamori Foundation
Mr. Takeshi Nakajima