German-Japanese exchangeJapan Honours Rector of Heidelberg University

Press Release No. 43/2021
30 April 2021

Order of the Rising Sun awarded for his commitment to German-Japanese exchange

The Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr Dr h.c. Bernhard Eitel, has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to promoting German-Japanese exchange at the scientific and academic level and thereby to strengthening relations between Germany and Japan. On 29 April 2021, the Japanese government announced that the Rector, as a foreign citizen, had been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star. This is in special recognition of his many years of commitment to the founding and build-up of HeKKSaGOn, a German-Japanese university consortium. It brings together Heidelberg University, the University of Göttingen and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology with three of the leading universities of Japan – Kyoto University, Osaka University and Tohoku University.

Portrait Bernhard Eitel

A communication from the Japanese Consulate General in Munich on the award of the order underlines that the university consortium with its six research-intensive member universities is of important and groundbreaking significance for German-Japanese cooperation. This applies not only to Japanology but also to a large number of disciplines in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. The rectors and presidents of the universities participating in HeKKSaGOn had signed a statement of cooperation in Heidelberg in July 2010. Besides intensifying academic collaboration, the main goal of the consortium – so far unique in German-Japanese cooperation – is to guarantee the sustainability of transnational measures and projects. The six participating universities share the conviction that important global problems can only be solved through interdisciplinary, international cooperation and through the open sharing of knowledge.

The overseas office of Kyoto University is, furthermore, located at Heidelberg University. From here, the Kyoto University European Center keeps up contacts in the field of research and education in Europe. Heidelberg University, in turn, maintains a foreign representation in Japan. The task of the Heidelberg University Office in Kyoto, opened in 2015, is to continue to promote cooperation between Ruperto Carola and its Japanese partner institutions in the area of research and teaching. Heidelberg University has entertained close contacts with Kyoto University since 1990. The bilateral university partnership was the starting point for expanding Japanese-German academic cooperation through the founding of HeKKSaGOn.