By Takehiko Kambayashi
The recipients were US painter Bill Viola, British sculptor Anish Kapoor, British actress Judi Dench, Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa.
The award honours artists who have contributed significantly to the development of international arts and culture, according to the Japan Art Association.
Ozawa, who resumed his musical activities after undergoing surgery in 2010 for esophageal cancer, said the support of many colleagues helped him win the award.
Ozawa, commenting on Japan’s worst nuclear accident in March, said he had believed that nuclear power generation was a technology that doesnot pollute the earth. He said he is now ashamed he did not know about its dangers, broadcaster NHK reported.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has been leaking radioactive material into the environment since it was hit by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
But Ozawa said he believed that Japan could now present alternatives to nuclear energy.
Viola travelled to a disaster-ravaged area in the prefecture of Miyagi on Monday to mourn those who perished in the disaster, which left more than 15,800 dead and some 3,800 missing in the north-east.
Viola, who had stayed in Miyagi for two and a half months 30 years ago, donated 1 million yen (13,000 dollars) to the prefecture.
“I’d like to wish them much success in rebuilding in the area,” Viola told Japan's broadcaster FNN, referring to residents in the disaster zone.