The 2021 Kyoto Prize Laureates Announced!

2021 Kyoto Prize laureates

Advanced Technology


Andrew Chi-Chih Yao
Computer Scientist
Dean, Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, Tsinghua University
Pioneering Contributions to a New Theory of Computation and Communication
and a Fundamental Theory for Its Security
Andrew Chi-Chih Yao created new trends in computer science and made a great contribution to cutting-edge research in various areas, especially in security, secure computing, and quantum computation through establishing innovative fundamental theories for computation and communication. His achievements are continuing to influence current real-world problems such as security, secure computing, and big data processing.
From Dr. Yao
“I feel deeply honored to be named as recipient of the Kyoto prize in Advanced Technology by the Inamori Foundation this year. Dr. Kazuo Inamori dedicates himself to the betterment of mankind, and stressing the essential roles for both science and humanities in moving toward that goal. His vision touches me profoundly. The Foundation recognizes achievements that are considered exemplary in this regard, and I am thrilled to join the list of distinguished laureates who have received this honor previously. I am most grateful for receiving the Kyoto prize, and eagerly look forward to playing a part in advancing Inamori Foundation’s vision for the future.”

Basic Sciences


Robert G. Roeder
Biochemist and Molecular Biologist
Arnold and Mabel Beckman Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University
Discovery of the Principle of Gene Transcription Mechanisms in Eukaryotes
Robert G. Roeder has revealed the principle of the regulatory mechanism of transcription in eukaryotes through his over 50 years of transcriptional research, by identifying functions of a series of factors such as three distinct RNA polymerases, basic transcription factors, one of the first gene-specific factors, and regulators in transcription from chromatin. Through his achievements, he has made significant contributions to develop present life science.
From Dr. Roeder
“The Kyoto Prize is notable for its recognition of complementary areas—basic science, technology, and arts and philosophy—that collectively contribute to the betterment of humankind. I, therefore, am honored and humbled to receive this esteemed prize in the late phase of a long career characterized by a passionate and unwavering pursuit of a fundamental question—the transcriptional regulation of gene expression—that was inspired by a landmark discovery over 50 years ago. It is truly gratifying to have this biochemical work, which laid the foundations for many current studies of gene expression through advanced technologies, recognized with this prize. I am indebted to, and graciously thank, the Inamori Foundation, my inspiring graduate and postdoctoral mentors, the many dedicated students and postdoctoral fellows who contributed so profoundly to the studies in my laboratory, and the institutions that have supported my unbridled passion for science.”

Arts and Philosophy


Bruno Latour
Professor Emeritus, Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po)
Radically Re-examining “Modernity” by Developing a Philosophy
that Focuses on Interactions Between Technoscience and Social Structure
Bruno Latour has revolutionized the conventional view of science by treating nature, humans, laboratory equipment, and other entities as equal actors, and describing technoscience as the hybrid network of these actors. His philosophy re-examines “modernity” based on the dualism of nature and society. He has a large influence across disciplines, with his multifaceted activities that include proposals regarding global environmental issues.
From Dr. Latour
“Needless to say that I am very honored to receive this prize, especially because the last French recipient is a hero of mine, namely Ariane Mnouchkine. It is also very nice to know that the translations of many of my books in Japanese was able to touch some of the intellectual elite. I have always been very impressed by the quality of the books published in Japan. I regret only not to be able to go to the marvelous city of Kyoto where I have many friends because of the pandemic. I really hope that I will be able to meet some of my colleagues there, and to meet the recipients of the same prize in science.”




The Prize Presentation Ceremony and many of the annual events the Foundation normally hosts will not be held this year due to ongoing global concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in place of the usual Commemorative Lectures, special lectures by the laureates will be delivered online. Details of these lectures will be announced in due course on our website, and we will look forward to your attention. (update: July 21, 2021)


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