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Nikkei Asia Prizes

Environmental and health pioneers win awards for Asian contributions

Trio of change-makers fight deep-set challenges with knowledge and passion

Bindeshwar Pathak views toilets as a tool for social justice that benefits the lowest rungs of Indian society. (Photo by Yuji Kuronuma)

TOKYO -- A Chinese environmentalist using the power of the internet to promote cleaner industry, a Vietnamese doctor bringing cutting-edge medicine to children and an Indian social reformer tackling two of his country's biggest challenges -- poor hygiene and discrimination -- have been awarded this year's Nikkei Asia Prizes.

The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Asia's development.

The prizes will be awarded on June 13 in Tokyo.

The recipients of the 23rd Nikkei Asia Prizes are:

Ma Jun, China, founding director, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) -- Winner for economic and business innovation

Ma Jun has improved transparency in China's environmental policy. (Photo by Tetsushi Takahashi)

Ma Jun leads a nongovernmental organization that produces an online pollution database, presenting the information in an easy-to-search format organized by region. The institute also publishes indexes of corporate work to benefit the environment, spurring provincial governments and industry to strengthen their protection efforts.

Nguyen Thanh Liem, Vietnam, director, Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology -- Winner for science and technology

Thanks to Nguyen Thanh Liem, center, a new generation of Vietnamese doctors is learning advanced surgical techniques.

Nguyen Thanh Liem, one of Vietnam's leading pediatric physicians, in 1997 performed the country's first minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery on a child. He went on to introduce robo-assisted surgery and other advanced technology that has brought life-changing treatments to children.

Bindeshwar Pathak, India, founder, Sulabh International -- Winner for culture and community

Bindeshwar Pathak founded an NGO in 1970 that has built Sulabh flush composting toilets throughout India, contributing to better sanitation, safety for rural women and freedom from the manual labor of removing human waste, long a source of stigma in Indian society.

The Nikkei Asia Prizes were created in 1996 to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Nikkei Inc.'s main Japanese-language newspaper, The Nikkei. They honor contributions to the region in three fields: economic and business innovation; science and technology; and culture and community.

Experts from across the Asia-Pacific region submit nominations. Candidates cannot nominate themselves, and Japanese individuals and organizations are ineligible.

Information on past winners is available at http://www.nikkei-events.jp/asiaprizes/en/index.html

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