American Association for Cancer Research

About Princess Takamatsu of Japan

  Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu in November 1990 in the Imperial court costume worn on the occasion of the Emperor's enthronement.

 

Her Imperial Highness Princess Kikuko Takamatsu was instrumental both in Japan and internationally in promoting cancer research and encouraging cancer scientists.  She became a champion for these causes following her mother's death from bowel cancer in 1933 at the young age of 43.

The Princess, a granddaughter of the last Tokugawa Shogun, the duke Yoshinobu Tokugawa, graduated from Joshi Gakushuin Women's College, a high school for girls of nobility.  It was with her classmates at school that she organized the Nadeshiko-kai, a volunteer organization named after the Nadeshiko pink flower which represents the grace and patience of Japanese women.   The Nadeshiko-kai held various charity events and donated their proceeds to the cancer research community including the Cancer Institute of Japan.

The Nadeshiko-kai was transformed in 1968 to the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund, with support from His Imperial Highness Prince Takamatsu, the classmates of the Princess, and eminent individuals in the academic and financial communities in Japan.  Princess Takamatsu remained the honorary president of the organization until her death in 2004.

Since 1970, the Fund has held an annual International Symposium, which is organized by an international Committee and has featured speakers from Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many other countries.  Since 1981, the Fund has also invited a distinguished scientist to give three lectures in Japan.  An additional activity of the Fund is to annually provide two prizes for basic and clinical studies to Japanese scientists.  Futhermore, generous research grants awarded annually to laboratories within Japan. 

The Princess was very interested in cancer research, and enjoyed conversations with scientists, raising scientifically significant questions.  She demonstrated a warm humanity by graciously inviting symposia speakers and lecturers to her residence.  The Princess was also a women of modern ideals and was supportive of women scientists. Her elegance and dignity attracted many to her side.

Throughout these activities, the Princess promoted the importance of collaborations, both among scientific disciplines and among scientists throughout the world. These efforts have achieved world-wide distinction through the collaboration of Western and Japanese scientists, the quality of the science which is supported and presented, and the stature of the scientists who participate.

The AACR thanks Takashi Sugimura, M.D., President Emeritus of the National Cancer Center of Japan and Honorary Member of the AACR, for contributing to this web page.