Prof. Dr. Rokuro Makabe
DAAD Scholarship 1960
Rokuro Makabe spent a long time wondering who could have nominated him for the Medal of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. "After all, I've already been in retirement for 13 years," said the doctor and researcher, who was born in Japan in 1930. This prestigious award was conferred in recognition of his many years of service to ophthalmology, to collaborative German-Japanese research and to international cultural exchange. Several years earlier, the doctor had received a similar award in his home country in recognition of his cultural commitment.+
Germany was a dream destination for us and the scholarships were in great demand.
Rokuro Makabe came to the University Hospital in Frankfurt in 1960 as a junior doctor equipped with a DAAD Scholarship. "Germany was a dream destination and the scholarships were in great demand," he says, commenting on his decision to leave his home town of Niigata. Actually, he only wanted to spend between one and two years in Frankfurt am Main. That this turned out to be nearly five decades is also due to a young medical student who initially became his assistant in 1963 and a year later his wife. In 1974 Rokuro Makabe became a German citizen. From 1973 until he gained emeritus status in 1996, he was head of the Department for Functional Diagnostics and Laser Therapy at the Ophthalmology Centre, University Hospital Frankfurt. He primarily worked on the blood flow within the eye and developed a special method for measuring eye pressure, which also helps doctors recognise the risk of stroke at an early stage. This former scholarship holder’s research contributed substantially to the understanding of blood supply disorders of the eye.
Rokuro Makabe wrote more than 160 scientific papers during his research career, many of which he translated into Japanese. He even wrote some specialist articles in his favourite language: Esperanto. He never lost contact with Japan. He often travelled to his home country and also brought many Japanese to the city on the Main.
After gaining emeritus status, Rokuro Makabe dedicated himself to Esperanto. He was active in various organisations that aimed to advance and preserve this artificial language. He attended meetings of the Esperanto Association in Frankfurt and annual Esperanto World Congresses. Rokuro Makabe explained: "Esperanto was in widespread use in Japan after the Second World War. At the time, foreign countries were far away for us, and so I corresponded a lot in Esperanto."
Prof Dr Rokuro Makabe died on 7 April 2012 at the age of 82.