Left to right: Robert W. Conn, President, The Kavli Foundation; Hitoshi Murayama, Director, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo; Fred Kavli, Founder and Chairman, The Kavli Foundation; Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister, Japan; Hirofumi Hirano, Minister, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. (Courtesy: University of Tokyo)
(Originally published by the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe, University of Tokyo)
May 11. 2012
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda welcomed to the Prime Minister’s Office this week US philanthropist Fred Kavli -- founder and chairman of The Kavli Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity. The Prime Minister also greeted Robert W. Conn, President of The Kavli Foundation, and Prof. Hitoshi Murayama, the director of the newly renamed Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the University of Tokyo.
Joining the Prime Minister and also extending greetings was Minister Hirofumi Hirano of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). Accompanying Mr. Kavli, Prof. Murayama and Dr. Conn were Prof. Sadanori Okamura, President of the Astronomical Society of Japan; and Dr. Naotaka Suzuki, Staff Scientist of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who works for Prof. Saul Perlmutter, 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics for his discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe.
The visit took place as the University of Tokyo celebrates the naming of the Kavli IPMU, which seeks answers to deeply profound questions in cosmology. Earlier this year, the University announced that The Kavli Foundation had provided funds for establishing an endowment supporting the Institute.
During his visit, Mr. Kavli and Prof. Murayama were also greeted by Minister Hirofumi Hirano of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).
“Basic science is an important and common resource for all of humanity and we really admire what you are doing in terms of supporting basic science,” Prime Minister Noda said to Mr. Kavli. “We are also honored that you have chosen Japan and the University of Tokyo to be supported by The Foundation. We at the government really believe that we need to attract global talent to Japan. The fact that the IPMU has received global attention and your interest and investment is a wonderful thing.”
Addressing Prime Minister Noda, Mr, Kavli shared his admiration for Japan and their common commitment to science. “It is a very great pleasure to be back here in Japan,” he said. “It is such a fabulous country at the leading edge of science and technology, and [it’s] a special pleasure to be [here] supporting science. Everything we touch in our daily lives has been created through the support or influence of science… so we are very, very pleased to support the IPMU, which is at the leading edge of science.”
Dr. Conn concurred, noting IPMU was part of Japan's World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), which created six international research centers around the country. “We were attracted to Japan by the quality of the science in Japan, …and that [the WPI] seems to be having an enormous impact – not only in Japan but around the world. So it is a new way forward. …We welcome the Kavli IPMU to a family of [Kavli] institutes that are global. This is the 16th Kavli institute of science and we are very pleased it is at the University of Tokyo and here in Japan.”
Minister Hirano also praised the Kavli IPMU. “MEXT established six science institutes across the country under the World Premier International Research Center Initiative and the fact that you have actually chosen one of these to become a Kavli institute is a very good sign that we have made the right choices.”
Smiling, he added, “Let me also mention that the research in space is something that Prime Minister Noda really cares about because it’s truly pushing the frontiers, so he may be the happiest person to see this development here.”
During the visit, Kavli IPMU Director Murayama presented the image of a spiral galaxy taken by the Subaru telescope to explain that galaxies are filled with mysterious dark matter. He also pointed out to the Prime Minister that more than a half of the scientific members at the Kavli IPMU are international, coming from all over the world. In describing the program, he highlighted the unique infrastructure and informal daily teatime to promote interdisciplinary interactions among the members and large number of visitors.