Dr. Hisakatsu Yabe was born in Tokyo in 1878. While attending the First High School in Tokyo, he became acquainted with Karl von Zittel’s Grundzuge der Palaeontologie (1899). This book deepened his interest in paleontology and in the study of geology. He entered the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Tokyo Imperial University in 1898. His interests and talents were recognized by his professors including Bunjiro Kato, who taught geology and petrology, Matajiro Yokayama, who taught paleontology, and by Kotora Jimbo, who held the chair in mineralogy. Dr. Yabe graduated with high honors, and in recognition of his graduation thesis, he was given a silver watch by his Majesty the Emperor Meiji.
After graduation Dr. Yabe attended the graduate school of the Tokyo Imperial University, majoring in geology and paleontology. During his five years there, he devoted much of his time to field work in Hokkaido and Korea, and published scientific several papers. These laid the groundwork for the development of paleontological research in Japan.
From April, 1906 to March, 1908, Yabe was an Instructor in geology in the College of Science, Tokyo Imperial University. In February of 1908, he traveled to Europe where he studied under Professor W. Branca and with Professor C. Diener. During his stay in Europe, he received word from the Ministry of Education that he had been appointed a Professor of Geology at the Tohoku Imperial University. The Institute of Geology, later renamed the Institute of Geology and Paleontology, was established with Dr. Yabe’s appointment.
Dr. Yabe was devoted towards furthering pure science and teaching. His students include those who later became prominent geologists and paleontologists and in other fields. He was untiring in his support for the progress of scientific societies and activities, both in Japan and world-wide.
Professor Yabe wrote nearly 500 papers covering a wide variety of scientific and engineering fields including important research in foraminifera. He was elected correspondent to the Die Kaiserlich-Koniglich Geographische Gesellschaft in Wien (1914), appointed member of the National Research Council of Japan (1920), appointed member of the Earthquake Research Institute (1930), elected Foreign Correspondent to the Paleontological Society of America (1931), elected Honorary Member of the Société Paléontologiae de Russie, USSR (1933), elected Correspondent of the Geological Society of America, elected Honorary Member of the Paleontological Society of Japan (1959), the Geological Society of Japan (1950), the Society for Quaternary Research (1961), the Geographical Society of Japan (1963), and elected Member of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany (1968).