New Director: Axel Karpenstein

© DAAD Tokyo/Axel Karpenstein

With the term of former director Dorothea Mahnke having ended in April 2022, Axel Karpenstein has succeeded her as new director of the DWIH Tokyo.


  • Born in Bremen
  • Exchange student for one year at a high school in Hachioji, Tokyo
  • Studied Japanese and Chinese Studies as well as Political Science and Economics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and Columbia University, USA
  • Research stays at the National Institute for Science & Technology Policy (NISTEP) and the German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ), among others
  • Associate Professor of Japanese Politics and Economics at Saitama University, Japan
  • Senior Research Officer at DAAD, Bonn, Germany
  • Program Coordinator at the German Centre for Science and Innovation (DWIH) Tokyo

Interview with the new director

– What are you looking forward to and what do you expect from your new job as director of DWIH Tokyo?

Germany and Japan are leading science nations, and both countries can benefit greatly from cooperation in research and innovation. But research networks don’t just “happen” – they must be initiated, promoted, and maintained. The DWIH is the central platform to accomplish this. With our large network of supporters and partners from Germany and Japan, we promote German research and innovation in Japan, connect researchers from both countries, and provide information and advice on how to pursue research cooperation. The DWIH team is very innovative, my colleagues are constantly developing new ideas and formats for connecting researchers, so I’m very much looking forward to working with them. I hope that many researchers, universities, and research institutes in Japan and Germany will get in touch with us!

– Is there anything you would like to try, improve or start again during your term?

The DWIH Tokyo presents cutting-edge research and innovation from Germany and Japan and connects researchers from both countries. For me, the focus lies on research that help us address the major global and national challenges of our time, such as protecting the climate and the environment, developing sustainable energy sources, health and well-being into old age, and promoting a fair and diverse society. Areas such as quantum technology or artificial intelligence also play a central role here. Increasingly important, however, is the transfer of knowledge and technology in the form of collaborations between science and industry and academic spin-offs and startups. I would like the DWIH Tokyo, together with its supporters, to become more active in providing information on developments and support programs and linking key actors from both countries.

Message from the new director

We are currently observing that Germany and Japan are becoming even more important to each, including the political level, which was underscored by the visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Tokyo in April of this year. Both countries are natural and reliable partners, and their collaboration can contribute to significant advances in research and innovation.

I would like to appeal to universities, research institutes and researchers from Germany and Japan: If you are interested in bilateral cooperation, just contact the DWIH Tokyo team! We will be happy to help you establish contacts, find partners, and guide you on how to initiate collaborations.

Updated on: September 20, 2022