The jury of the Ramon Llull International Prize has unanimously decided to grant this distinction in its Catalan Studies and Cultural Diversity category to the professor in the Department of Intercultural Studies at Hosei University, Ko Tazawa, a translator of works by Catalan authors into Japanese and the translator of Yukio Mishima into Catalan, as well as the founder of Catalan Studies in Japan. The jury particularly showcased his role as a trainer of experts in Catalan Studies in Japan.
The award, which comes with a purse of €6,000, is held jointly by the Fundació Ramon Llull and the Fundació Congrés de Cultura Catalana every year. The objective of this distinction is to value the entire body of work of a person from outside the Catalan linguistic domain, written in any language, which has provided significant information on the historical and cultural reality of Catalonia, or the theoretical or practical contributions of a person from any country which have made a significant contribution to knowledge, recognition, promotion or defence of one or more stateless cultures or nations, or of cultural diversity as a universal value.
This year the jury was made up of Miquel Strubell, Jaume Subirana, Carme Junyent and Margalida Pons on behalf of the Fundació Congrés de Cultura Catalana; and Vicenç Villatoro, Teresa Cabré, Maria Josep Cuenca and Jordi Ginebra on behalf of the Fundació Ramon Llull.
The awardees in the most recent editions are Christer Laurén (2018), Jon Landaburu (2017), Kathryn Woolard (2016), Philip D. Rasico (2015), Juan Carlos Moreno Cabrera (2014), Max Wheeler (2013), Georg Kremnitz (2012), Malika Ahmed (2010), Denise Boyer (2009), Michael van Walt van Praag (2008), Alan Yates (2007), Tilbert Stegmann (2006), Paul Preston (2005) and Giuseppe Tavani (2004).
Ko Tazawa (Yokohama, Japan, 1953) earned his doctorate in Hispanic Studies from Osaka University in 1986 and in Catalan Philology from the University of Barcelona in 1999. He is a professor in the department of Intercultural Studies at Hosei University, Tokyo. In 2006-2007, he worked as a visiting research fellow at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland.
He has translated Camí de sirga (1990) and La pell freda by Albert Sánchez Piñol into Japanese, along with an anthology of stories by Quim Monzó, Montserrat Roig, Joan Perucho, Sergi Pàmies, Manuel de Pedrolo and others. In 2007, he published a complete version of Tirant lo blanc with the Iwanami publishing house, one of the most prestigious publishers of world literature in Japan. This publication, which had the support of the Institut Ramon Llull, came in the same year that Catalan culture was the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The translation of this work is one of the milestones in his career as a Catalanophile. He has also translated the Yukio Mishima book The Sound of Waves into Catalan in conjunction with Josep Pijoan (2008).
In addition to being a translator, Ko Tazawa is the author of numerous scholarly works in Japanese and Catalan, such as the Introducció a la gramàtica (Introduction to Catalan grammar), the Diccionari català-japonès (Catalan-Japanese dictionary) and the Diccionari japonès-català (Japanese-Catalan dictionary). He has published several popular books, including Catalunya i un japonès (Catalonia and a Japanese) published by La Campana, Cartes a Yu i Kei (Letters to Yu and Kei) published by La Campana, En Yu i en Kei tornen al Japó (Yu and Kei return to Japan) published by La Galera and Cuina japonesa a Catalunya (Japanese Cuisine in Catalonia) published by Columna.
He is also a contributor to Ara newspaper. In 2003, he was awarded the Cross of St George and in 2009 the prize from the Japanese government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for his work as a bridge between Japan and Catalonia. Last year, he was made an honorary member of the Association of Catalan Language Writers (AELC).
Awarded by the Ramon Llull Foundation and the Congress of Catalan Culture Foundation
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