Since 1949, there have been twenty-nine Japanese laureates of the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is a Sweden-based international monetary prize. The award was established by the 1895 will and estate of Swedish chemist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It was first awarded in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace in 1901. An associated prize, thus far, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, also sometimes known as the Nobel Prize in Economics, has yet to be awarded to a Japanese national.
The Nobel Prizes in the above specific sciences disciplines and the Prize in Economics, which is commonly identified with them, are widely regarded as the most prestigious award one can receive in those fields. Of Japanese winners, twelve have been physicists, eight chemists, three for literature, five for physiology or medicine, and one for efforts towards peace.
In the 21st century, in the field of natural science, the number of Japanese winners of the Nobel Prize has been second behind the U.S.
|Category||Japanese citizens||Others born as Japanese||Total||Remarks|
|Physics||9||3||12||Yoichiro Nambu, Shuji Nakamura, and Syukuro Manabe became an American citizen.|
|Chemistry||8||-||8||Ei-ichi Negishi was born in Manchuria|
|Physiology or Medicine||5||-||5|
|Literature||2||1||3||Kazuo Ishiguro became a British citizen in 1983.|
The following are the Nobel laureates who were Japanese citizens at the time they were awarded the Nobel Prize.
|1949||Hideki Yukawa||Physics||1907–1981||Kyoto Imperial University||"for his prediction of the existence of mesons on the basis of theoretical work on nuclear forces".|
|1965||Sin-Itiro Tomonaga||Physics||1906–1979||Kyoto Imperial University||"for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles" – shared with Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman.|
|1968||Yasunari Kawabata||Literature||1899–1972||Tokyo Imperial University||"for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind".|
|1973||Leo Esaki||Physics||1925–||Tokyo Imperial University||"for their experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors and superconductors, respectively" – shared with Ivar Giaever and Brian David Josephson.|
|1974||Eisaku Satō||Peace||1901–1975||Tokyo Imperial University||"Prime Minister of Japan," "for his renunciation of the nuclear option for Japan and his efforts to further regional reconciliation" – Shared with Seán MacBride.|
|1981||Kenichi Fukui||Chemistry||1918–1998||Kyoto Imperial University||"for their theories, developed independently, concerning the course of chemical reactions" – shared with Roald Hoffmann.|
|1987||Susumu Tonegawa||Physiology or Medicine||1939–||Kyoto University||"for his discovery of the genetic principle for generation of antibody diversity."|
|1994||Kenzaburō Ōe||Literature||1935–||Tokyo Imperial University||"who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today."|
|2000||Hideki Shirakawa||Chemistry||1936–||Tokyo Institute of Technology||"for the discovery and development of conductive polymers" – shared with Alan MacDiarmid and Alan Heeger.|
|2001||Ryōji Noyori||Chemistry||1938–||Kyoto University||"for their work on chirally catalysed hydrogenation reactions" – shared with William Knowles and Barry Sharpless.|
|2002||Masatoshi Koshiba||Physics||1926–2020||The University of Tokyo||"for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, in particular for the detection of cosmic neutrinos" – shared with Raymond Davis, Jr. and Riccardo Giacconi.|
|Koichi Tanaka||Chemistry||1959–||Tohoku University||"for the development of methods for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules" and "for their development of soft desorption ionisation methods for mass spectrometric analyses of biological macromolecules" – shared with John Fenn and Kurt Wüthrich.|
|2008||Makoto Kobayashi||Physics||1944–||Nagoya University||"for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature" – shared with Yoichiro Nambu and Toshihide Maskawa.|
|Toshihide Maskawa||Physics||1940–2021||Nagoya University||"for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature" – shared with Yoichiro Nambu and Makoto Kobayashi.|
|Osamu Shimomura||Chemistry||1928–2018||Nagasaki University||"for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP" – shared with Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien.|
|2010||Ei-ichi Negishi||Chemistry||1935–2021||The University of Tokyo||"for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis" – shared with Richard F. Heck and Akira Suzuki.|
|Akira Suzuki||Chemistry||1930–||Hokkaido University||"for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis" – shared with Richard F. Heck and Ei-ichi Negishi.|
|2012||Shinya Yamanaka||Physiology or Medicine||1962–||Kobe University||"for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent" – shared with John B. Gurdon.|
|2014||Isamu Akasaki||Physics||1929–2021||Kyoto University||"for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources" – shared with Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura.|
|Hiroshi Amano||Physics||1960–||Nagoya University||"for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources" – shared with Isamu Akasaki and Shuji Nakamura.|
|2015||Satoshi Ōmura||Physiology or Medicine||1935–||University of Yamanashi||"for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites" – shared with William C. Campbell and Tu Youyou.|
|Takaaki Kajita||Physics||1959–||Saitama University||"for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass" – shared with Arthur B. McDonald.|
|2016||Yoshinori Ohsumi||Physiology or Medicine||1945-||The University of Tokyo||"for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy"|
|2018||Tasuku Honjo||Physiology or Medicine||1942-||Kyoto University||"for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation" – shared with James P. Allison.|
|2019||Akira Yoshino||Chemistry||1948-||Kyoto University||"for the development of lithium-ion batteries" – shared with John B. Goodenough and M. Stanley Whittingham.|
The following are Nobel laureates of Japanese birth and origin but subsequently acquired foreign citizenship; however, they are still often included in lists of Japanese Nobel laureates.
|2008||Yoichiro Nambu||Physics||1921–2015||Tokyo Imperial University||"for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics" – shared with Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa.|
|2014||Shuji Nakamura||Physics||1954–||Tokushima University||"for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources" – shared with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano.|
|2017||Kazuo Ishiguro||Literature||1954-||University of Kent||"who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world"|
|2021||Syukuro Manabe||Physics||1931-||The University of Tokyo||"for groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex systems."– shared with Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi, specifically “for the physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global warming”.|
The 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Charles J. Pedersen has a Japanese mother and his Japanese first name was Yoshio (良男). Born in Busan, Korea, Japanese protectorate, he moved to Japan with his family at the age of 8 years to attend a convent school in Nagasaki. When he was 10 years old, he moved to Yokohama and entered an international school, called Saint Joseph College in Yamate, Naka-ku.
The 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics winner Anthony James Leggett spent a year in the group of Professor Takeo Matsubara at Kyoto University in the 1960s, he can speak fluently in Japanese and English. His wife is Haruko Kinase, a Japanese researcher.
After the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of Atomic bombings of Hiroshima, attended the Nobel Prize award ceremony, received the Nobel Medal, Nobel Diploma and delivered speeches (Nobel Lecture) on December 2017.
When Ishiguro was included as the youngest member of the 1983 best of young British writers, he wasn't a British citizen. He took citizenship later that year as a very practical decision.
He became a British citizen in 1983.
Yamagiwa, then Director of the Department of Pathology at Tokyo Imperial University Medical School, had theorized that repetition or continuation of chronic irritation caused precancerous alterations in previously normal epithelium. If the irritant continued its action, carcinoma could result. These data, publicly presented at a special meeting of the Tokyo Medical Society and reprinted below, focused attention on chemical carcinogenesis. Further more, his experimental method provided researchers with a means of producing cancer in the laboratory and anticipated investigation of specific carcinogenic agents and the precise way in which they acted. Within a decade, Keller and associates extracted a highly potent carcinogenic hydrocarbon from coal tar. Dr. Yamagiwa had begun a new era in cancer research.