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Masubuchi receives high Japanese honor

The Emperor of Japan has decorated a veteran MIT faculty member for his academic achievements and his contributions to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between the United States and Japan.

Dr. Koichi Masubuchi, the Kawasaki Professor of Engineering, received the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, on November 8 at ceremonies at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. Foreign Minister Yohei Kono made the presentation. An audience with the Emperor followed.

Professor Masubuchi, who holds joint appointments in the Department of Ocean Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is an expert on the design and fabrication of marine and aerospace structures such as ships, submarines, offshore structures and space vehicles. He is recognized internationally for developing techniques that make welding in deep-sea and outer space possible.

The award from the Emperor recognizes his contributions in those fields and also his efforts to strengthen the ties between his native Japan and the United States. He has been a US citizen since 1973.

A member of the faculty since 1968, Professor Masubuchi "has advised many Japanese exchange students, some 50 of whom came under his direct supervision in his research lab," the announcement from Japan's consulate in Boston said. The announcement also cited his work to facilitate the establishment of an exchange relationship between the engineering departments at MIT and the University of Tokyo. It was at that university, as a young student, that Professor Masubuchi discovered the work of the late MIT professor William Hovgaard, whose textbook on the then-new technique of ship welding-replacing rivets-had been translated into Japanese.

The award to Professor Masubuchi also notes his service as president of the Japanese Association of Greater Boston from 1972-81. "Foremost among his contributions was the founding in 1975 of the Japanese Language School, of which he was the first principal until 1981. This school offers weekend instructions to the children of Japanese nationals living in the area and helps them to keep up with their peers in Japan in social studies, Japanese language and other subjects," the announcement said. It also noted his service as a director (1974-81) and vice president (1981-84) of the Japan Society of Boston.

Others from MIT who have been similarly honored in the past by the Emperor include Dr. Paul E. Gray, chairman of the MIT Corporation; the late MIT President Emeritus Jerome B. Wiesner; Professor Emeritus Samuel A. Goldblith; and Professor Emeritus George H. Buchi.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 15, 1995.

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