Just following a trip to Geneva, where he made a presentation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Tatsuya Tanami will be recognized at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, at Wittenberg University when he will become the 10th Wittenberg Fellow since the program’s inception in 1999. After he receives the citation from President Baird Tipson, Tanami, the director of international affairs for the Nippon Foundation, will give a talk titled, “Public Intellectuals: A New Asian Force for Change” in Ness Auditorium inside Hollenback Hall.
The Wittenberg Fellows program is a prestigious honor, recognizing notable accomplishments in a chosen field. The program elects two to five Fellows each year, and those named are asked to spend a few days on campus to interact with students, faculty and staff, offer career counseling and serve as a vocational role model.
The Nippon Foundation is a private, non-profit, grant-making foundation in Japan and one of the largest granting agencies in the world. Creating networks of Asian intellectuals, eradicating Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) from the world, improving soil fertility in impoverished areas and providing thyroid screenings for nearly 200,000 young people in the Chernobyl area are just a few of the important projects and causes Tanami oversees.
Tanami studied at Wittenberg for a year in 1974-75. He graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1973 and began a long tenure at the International House of Japan, where he served in a host of positions, eventually becoming program director. There, he became one of his country’s most active promoters of international cooperation, creating and running endless programs that brought together scholars, government leaders and businessmen from around the world to talk, and to dream of a more cooperative world.
While at the International House of Japan, Tanami created the Asia Leadership Fellows Program, inspiring young students to study abroad in the Grew fellows program, finding practical ways to bring foreign students and scholars from every part of the world together in Tokyo-based research societies.
“His work has been richly varied, taking him to every part of the world for talks with presidents, scholars, journalists and common folk, and his passion has been the creation of a network of scholars and opinion leaders, especially across Asia, who become true public intellectuals,” said James Huffman, Wittenberg professor of history. “Mr. Tanami is a wonderful human being, the kind of person you would love to have in your own community working feverishly to make the world a healthier, more peaceful, more dynamic, more truly international place.”