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International Cosmos Prize

The Prizewinner 1995

Name Tatuo Kira
Born on 27 December 1919
Nationality Japan
Title Advisor,
Shiga Prefectural Government

Reason for Awarding

Dr. Kira's achievements are primarily characterized by research with a very broad outlook in which the study of ecological classification of global climates forms the core.

The second characteristic is the successful establishment of a quantitative methodology in plant ecology, which was so far based largely on naturalistic observations, by introducing a new viewpoint concerning the organic matter production by plant communities. Dr. Kira has made quantitative analyses of the process of organic matter production and matter cycling in natural ecosystems, choosing the forest as his main target, and has presented this essential function of plants on the earth in terms of clear numerical indices. On the basis of these studies that indicate the essential role of plants indispensable for human survival, he has been advocating the conservation of global greenery since the 1950s. The study and proposal of Dr. Kira are certainly of very advanced significance in view of the evolution of today's global environmental problems.

The third point is the broad range of his study. Geographically, his research activity covered Micronesia and northeastern China before and during World War II, various parts of Japan, Southeast Asia in post-war days, and recently Lake Biwa, some foreign lakes and their catchment areas. Amid his diversified researches on both land and water ecosystems in broader regions, Dr. Kira has always been in pursuit of general laws existing in various life phenomena from the standpoint of ecology.

What consistently underlies Dr. Kira's achievements is an attitude to think in the global context, the comprehensive approach to finding out unified laws among diverse ecological processes, and the proposal for the harmonious coexistence of nature and humankind based on the laws of nature.


1942 Graduated from the Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto Imperial University
1948 Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Kyoto University
1949 Professor of Plant Ecology, Faculty of Science, Osaka City University
1980 - 1983 President, Ecological Society of Japan
1981 Professor Emeritus, Osaka City University
1982 - 1994 Director, Lake Biwa Research Institute
1986 - 1995 Chairperson, Scientific Committee, International Lake Environment Committee Foundation
1990 - 1994 Chairperson, Japan Society of Tropical Ecology
1994 - Advisor, Shiga Prefectural Government


1984 Purple Ribbon Medal (Japanese Government)
1985 Culture Prize (The Kyoto Newspaper Co.)
1990 Second Class Order of the Sacred Treasure (Japanese Government)
1995 Kumagusu Minakata Prize (Tanabe City)

Main Publications


  • Kira, T. (1949) Forest Zones of Japan.
    Nippon Ringyo Gijutsu Kyokai, Sapporo and Tokyo.42pp.
  • Kira, T. (1950) Deciduous Conifer Forest-On the Forest Vegetation in the Great Khing-an Mountains. Nippon Ringyo Gijutsu Kyokai, Sapporo and Tokyo.36pp.
  • Kira, T. (ed.) (1960) Plant Ecology 2.
    Kokon Shoin, Tokyo.402pp.
  • Kira, T., Umesao, T., Iwata, K. and Yoshii, R. (ed.) (1961,1962,1964,1965,1967,1969,1971) Nature and Life in Southeast Asia, Vol.1-7. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo. 454+276+466+402+312+213+354pp.
  • Kira, T. (1971) An Ecologist's View of Nature. Kawade Shobo, Tokyo. 295pp.
  • Kira, T. (1976) Terrestrial Ecosystems - An Introduction. Kyouritsu Shuppan, Tokyo. 166pp.
  • Kira, T. (1976) Thoughts on Nature Conservation. Jimbun Shoin, Kyoto. 254pp.
  • Kira, T., Ono, Y. and Hosokawa, T. (ed.) (1978)
    Biological Production in a Warm-Temperate Evergreen Oak Forest of Japan (JIBP Synthesis 18).
    University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.
  • Kira, T. (1983) Ecology of Tropical Forests.
    Jimbun Shoin, Kyoto. 251pp.
  • Kira, T. (ed.) (1987) Conservation of Water Resources-Problems in the Catchment Area of Lake Biwa. Jimbun Shoin, Kyoto.231pp.
  • Kira, T. (ed.) (1990) Lake Biwa in the Global Environment. Jimbun Shoin, Kyoto. 277pp.

Fish cages filling the surface of Lake Dianchi near Kunming City, Yunnan Province,China(1988).
During a few years that followed, the fish culture was almost completely destroyed owing to the rapid advance of eutrophication.

Fishermen of Lake Erhai in Dali Prefecture, Yunnan, repairing trap cages for catching shrimps (1992).

Strolling through a tropical rain forest in Lambir National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia (1993).

In the Japan-USA study site in Lambir National Park (1993).