Ben-Ami Shillony

Prof. Ben-Ami Shillony

Former Academic Director
Member of the Israeli National Academia for Sciences
Ben-Ami  Shillony

Ben-Ami Shillony is Professor Emeritus of East Asian studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and honorary president of the Israeli Association of Japanese Studies. He was born in Poland in 1937 and immigrated toIsrael in 1948. After receiving his Master degree in history from the Hebrew University in 1965, he studied for two years Japanese language at the International ChristianUniversity in Tokyo, and then went to PrincetonUniversity, where he received his Ph.D. degree in Japanese history.

In 1971 he returned to Israel and taught at the Hebrew University until his retirement in 2006. He also taught and conducted research at the universities of Colorado, Oxford, Cambridge, Berkeley, Harvard, and Tokyo. He served as academic chairman of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace from 1987 to 1990. He was twice awarded the Michael Milken Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In 2000 the Emperor of Japan, through the Japanese ambassador to Israel, bestowed on him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star (Kun-nitō Zuihōshō). In October 2010 he received the Japan Foundation Award and was granted an audience with the emperor and empress. In 2007 an international conference was held in his honor at the Hebrew University.

His books in Hebrew on Japanese history and culture are the standard textbooks on Japan in Israel. His books in English include: Revolt in Japan (Princeton University Press, 1973), Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan (Clarendon Press, 1981), The Jews and the Japanese (Tuttle, 1992), Collected Writings of Ben-Ami Shillony (Curzon Press, 2000), Enigma of the Emperors (Global Oriental, 2005), and (ed.) The Emperors of Modern Japan (Brill, 2008). His topics of research include the institution of the Japanese emperor and the relations between Jews and Japanese.

Research Abstract

The institute of the Japanese emperors is unique in the world. Having lost military and political power more than 1,500 years ago, this institution and the dynasty that occupied the throne have never changed or toppled or replaced by those who wielded power. The Japanese emperors were instrumental in promoting great changes, but also in preserving the status quo. In modern times they led the adoption of western civilization, but also inflamed war and aggression. The purpose of my research is to reveal the mechanism behind the function and perpetuity of this institution.

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