Japan’s Imperial House Bestows Prestigious Honor on Michael Hoch

The Rector of the University of Bonn has been awarded an order in recognition of his efforts to promote academic exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Germany.


Michael Hoch, the Rector of the University of Bonn, receives an award for his many years of commitment to academic exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Germany, which he began and steadily continued during his time as Managing Director of the LIMES Institute.

Yesterday, the Japanese government officially announced its intention to honor Professor Michael Hoch, the Rector of the University of Bonn, with the “Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays” of the country’s Imperial House. Professor Hoch, who has held office since 2015, is thus being recognized for his contribution to academic exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and Germany. The order is one of the highest awarded for services to civil society. Other recipients of honors besides Rector Hoch include former federal minister Peter Altmaier and Professor Matthias Kleiner, former president of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Leibniz Association.

In its speech given in Professor Hoch’s honor to mark the award of his order, the Japanese Consulate-General in Düsseldorf said that he had made a significant contribution not only to academic dialogue but also to mutual German-Japanese understanding through his work to forge strong links between the University of Bonn and universities in Japan.

As long ago as 2006, Professor Hoch began to build a close partnership in the life sciences between the University of Bonn and Waseda University in Tokyo, which to date has enabled over 400 Japanese and German students and researchers to spend time at the LIMES Institute in Bonn and the Center for Advanced Biomedical Sciences (TWIns) in Tokyo respectively. Numerous grants and third-party funding initiatives have been secured from Japanese and German funding organizations to make this unique exchange a reality.

Professor Hoch’s commitment to German-Japanese exchange and dialogue has also been a feature of his time as Rector. One landmark moment came during a visit to Waseda in 2017, when he signed a strategic partnership agreement that led to another marked increase in joint research and exchange projects and strengthened cooperation between the two universities. Michael Hoch was awarded an honorary doctorate from Waseda back in 2018 for his academic achievements and his work promoting exchange and dialogue.

In explaining the decision to award Rector Hoch his order, the Consulate-General also cited the declaration of intent that he signed during his visit to the University of Tokyo in 2022. This related to student exchange and extending a corresponding University-wide agreement with the University of Tsukuba. He also works closely with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Japan Cultural Institute in Cologne, such as for the University’s Japan Day as part of the 2022 International Days, in order to deepen understanding of the country in Germany.

“I’m hugely honored and delighted to receive this award from the Imperial House of Japan,” Michael Hoch says. “Strengthening our dialogue with our Japanese partners has always been very important to me, so I feel greatly humbled that these efforts have been recognized in such a special way with the conferring of this order. In particular, my special thanks go to my colleagues at the LIMES Institute, chief among them Professor Waldemar Kolanus, and many working groups in the Faculty of Medicine. The same applies to my Japanese colleagues, who have supported and facilitated this intensive exchange for Japanese and German students and researchers over the past 20 years together with their teams.”

The Order of the Rising Sun was created in 1875 as the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese government. The badge features rays of light emanating from the rising sun suspended from three enameled paulownia leaves and flowers. Consul-General Setsuko KAWAHARA will present the order in person at a later date.

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