Keynote Speaker

Dr. Akito Arima

At the peak of a long and distinguished career, Dr. Akito Arima served education as president of the University of Tokyo (1989-1993), science as president of Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (1993-1998), and his nation as Minister of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture (1998-2000). He has received many prizes, honorary degrees, and awards for his accomplishment in science and education. Notably he has been named a person of cultural merit and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, and in 2010 was awarded the Order of Culture by the Emperor of Japan. Dr. Arima continues to serve both science and Japan’s rising international consciousness by bringing the knowledge gained in his years of scientific and poetic work to bear on the problems of the new century.

While Dr. Arima was pursuing his dual career as a world-class nuclear physicist and internationally recognized educational administrator, he also became an outstanding leader among Japan’s haiku poets and a great supporter of haiku worldwide. His haiku mentor was Seison Yamaguchi (1892-­1988), one of the important disciples of Kyoshi Takahama who helped carry the tradition of haiku into the modern world. Seison’s dual life as professor of engineering and haiku master may have provided a role model for the younger poet-scientist.

His haiku collection Ten’i (“Providence”) received the Japanese Haiku Poets Association Prize for 1987. In 1990 he started a group under the same name, Ten’i , which in less than a decade became one of Japan’s most prominent haiku clubs.

In 1995, Dr. Arima was instrumental in sending a delegation of contemporary Japanese haiku poets led by master Yatsuka Ishihara to the first joint conference of Japan’s Haiku International Association and the Haiku Society of America, held in Chicago. He played a leading role in organizing the second conference in Tokyo in 1997. He is currently President of the Haiku International Association, which features haiku in Japanese and English in its publications.

Dr. Arima’s collection of poetry, Einstein’s Centurytranslated into English by Lee Gurga and Emiko Miyashita, has received high praise.

—adapted from William J. Higginson’s introduction to Einstein’s Century

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