Writer Bao Ninh became the first Vietnamese author to receive the Nikkei Asia Prize for culture in Tokyo on May 25.

This is the 16 th year that the Nikkei daily has awarded its prize to those who have contributed to improving the lives of Asian people in terms of economy, technology and culture.

Ninh was awarded the prize for his best-selling novel Noi Buon Chien Tranh (The Sorrow of War), based on his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnamese army during the American War. The novel has been translated into Japanese.

“Awarding the Nikkei Asia Prize to a Vietnamese writer underlines the level of Japanese respect for Vietnamese cultural values,” Ninh said at the award ceremony. “The prize is further evidence of the close ties between the Vietnamese and Japanese people.”

Everything I have written only stresses the idea that there is nothing better than peace and nothing scarier than war,” Ninh said in describing his book.

“My biggest hope is that war will be totally eradicated from human society.”

The writer expressed his sympathy towards those Japanese people who had suffered during the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Ninh, real name Hoang Au Phuong, born in the central province of Nghe An in 1952, joined the army from 1969 until 1975 after which he obtained a university degree in Hanoi and worked at the Vietnam Institute of Science. From 1984-86, he studied at the Nguyen Du Writing School, securing a job at the Van Nghe Tre (Youth Literature and Arts) magazine shortly there after.

The Sorrow of War was awarded Vietnam Writers Association Prize in 1991 and was translated into English by Frank Palmos and Phan Thanh Thao.

During the same ceremony, 61-year-old Antonio Meloto, chairman of Gawad Kalinga from the Philippines , was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for regional growth for his contribution in building more than 200,000 houses for low-income people in around 2,000 communes in the Philippines and other countries.

WU Maw-kuen, 61, director of the Institute of Physics , Academia Sinica in Taiwan , was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The 16 th Nikkei Asia Prizes judging panel was chaired by Shoichiro Toyada, the honorary chairman of Nippon Keidanren./.