In a remarkable display of cultural diplomacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met with Dr. Tomio Mizokami, a distinguished Japanese author and linguist, during the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima, Japan. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the summit and served as an opportunity to recognize Mizokami significant contributions to promoting Indian culture in Japan. Prime Minister Modi commended Mizokami’s relentless efforts and praised him for his role in strengthening the ties between India and Japan.
Dr. Tomio Mizokami, an 81-year-old Padma Shri awardee, has dedicated his life to learning, researching, and teaching Hindi in both India and Japan. Born in Kobe, Japan, Mizokami was influenced by the vibrant Indian community that resided there during his early years. Fascinated by their language, he developed a keen interest in learning Hindi, which eventually led him to become a prominent Hindi and Punjabi linguist.
After completing his graduation, Mizokami traveled to Allahabad, India, where he studied Hindi from 1965 to 1968. During this time, he also took lessons to learn Bengali. Mizokami’s passion for the Hindi language brought him back to Japan, where he joined the Hindi department at Osaka University as a research assistant in 1968. He further pursued his academic journey by obtaining a Master’s degree in Hindi from the University of Delhi and a Ph.D. in Hindi in 1983.
One of Mizokami’s notable achievements is his contribution to Indian cinema. He has translated nearly 301 popular Hindi film songs, providing Japanese subtitles and allowing a broader audience to appreciate the richness of Indian music and culture. His efforts in promoting Indian languages extended beyond Japan as well. From 1989 to 1990, he served as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago and the University of California, where he taught Punjabi.
Dr. Tomio Mizokami’s dedication to Hindi and Indian culture has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, he received the prestigious Padma Shri award from former President Ram Nath Kovind, recognizing his remarkable service in the fields of literature and education. Mizokami’s contribution to the Hindi language was further acknowledged in 2001 when he was honored with the “Hindi Ratna” award by the Uttar Pradesh government.
During his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, Dr. Mizokami expressed his desire to host the next Vishwa Hindi Sammelan (World Hindi Conference) in Japan. This proposal demonstrates his commitment to strengthening cultural ties between India and Japan, as well as his unwavering dedication to promoting the Hindi language.
Dr. Tomio Mizokami’s lifelong pursuit of Hindi and his passion for Indian culture have garnered him numerous accolades, including the title of “Professor Emeritus” from Osaka University of Foreign Studies. His remarkable achievements and contributions have not only brought Indian culture closer to the Japanese people but have also served as an inspiration to bridge the gap between nations through language and cultural understanding.
Prime Minister Modi’s recognition of Dr. Mizokami’s efforts underscores the importance of cultural ambassadors like him in fostering strong relationships between countries. The meeting between the two leaders serves as a testament to the power of language, culture, and the significant impact one individual can make in promoting mutual respect and understanding on the global stage.