Meet the awardees of the Fukuoka Prize 2019

Congratulations to sociologist Randy David, historian Leonard Blusse, and playwright Sato Makoto!

It is not an easy feat to bring Asian culture to the fore. It took a throng of historians, scholars, artists, and filmmakers over the years — just some of the cultural bearers the Fukuoka Prize brings to our attention every year.

Since 1990, the Fukuoka Prize has been awarded to those who have dedicated their lives to the academia, arts and culture of Asia, where “it is vital to preserve, develop, and promote the harmonious coexistence of the diverse cultures,” reads the official website.

This year, on the award’s 30th anniversary, the committee has awarded the grand prize to sociologist Randy David from the Philippines. Historian Leonard Blusse from the Netherlands received the academic award, while playwright and stage director Sato Makoto from Japan received the arts and culture award.

Where have you heard these names before?

Randy David is the first Filipino in history to be given the grand prize! His write-up on the official website cites him as “a leading Asian public intellectual and intellectual activist.” His career as a public broadcaster began in 1986, on his show Truth Forum, which led to a series of talk shows and newspaper columns.  In 1977, he founded the Third World Studies Center at the University of the Philippines. He currently has a column for Inquirer Opinion, where he writes about sociological and political issues.

Leonard Blusse is credited for creating the foundations of a field referred to as “the maritime history of early modern East/Southeast Asia.” You may have read his publications if you’re in Asian-European studies—his volume of work, particularly on the Europe and American expansion in Asia through history, has broadened the field studies.

Sato Makoto “played a leading role in promoting international exchange in Asia through drama.” He was responsible for award-winning play Nezumi Kozo Jirokichi in 1971. More recently, in 2017, he opened the Wakabacho Wharf, a self-funded art center in Yokohoma for aspiring Asian theatre professionals.

If you’re keen on learning more about Asian history, an online library ( is also available on their official website, with a curated list of works available for online purchase. It features, for example, Ambeth Ocampo’s Quezon’s Sukiyaki and Rizal Without the Overcoat, and Reyaldo Ileto’s Knowledge and Pacification.

*Photos and videos courtesy of the Fukuoka Prize team

**Nina Unlay is the editor of

Cebu Pacific flies directly to Fukuoka from Manila.

Written by

Nina Unlay

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