Ben-Ami Shillony

Prof. (Emeritus) Ben-Ami Shillony

Louis Frieberg Professor Emeritus, Department of Asian Studies
ben-ami shilony

PhD (1971) - Princeton University


CV and Academic Milestones


Ben-Ami Shillony was born in Poland on October 28, 1937 and spent the war years as a child in the Soviet Union. In 1948 he immigrated to Israel and settled with his parents on kibbutz Tel Yitzhak. In 1958 he enrolled at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and studied History and Philosophy for the B.A. degree and History for the M.A. degree.  In 1965, he went to Japan on a Japanese government scholarship and studied for two years at the International Christian University in Tokyo. In 1967 he was admitted at Princeton University in the United States, where he studied Japanese history under Professor Marius Jansen. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the February 1936 military revolt in Japan. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1971, he returned to Israel and taught Japanese history and culture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until his retirement in 2006. He also taught at the universities of Harvard, Colorado, and Haifa, and was a research fellow at the universities of Tokyo, Berkeley, Oxford, and Cambridge.
He served as director of the Joseph Saltiel Center for  Pre-academic Studies (1977-1979), as chairman of the Department of East Asian Sudies (1979-1984, 1996-2000), and as chairman of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace (1987-1990). From 1999 to 2003 he served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Senate of the Hebrew University, and from 2001 to 2005 was chairman of the academic committee of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace.  In 1996 and again in 2005 he was awarded the Michael Milken Prize for Excellence in Teaching. In 2000 he was appointed the Louis Frieberg Professor in East Asian studies. In November 2000 the Emperor of Japan bestowed on him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star (Kun-nito Zuihosho). In 2007 an international conference was held in Jerusalem to mark his retirement. It resulted in the book in his honor: Guy Podoler, ed., War and Militarism in Modern Japan: Issues of History and Identity (Global Oriental, 2009).

List of Publications


In English:

  • Revolt in Japan (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973. Translated into Japanese:  Nihon no hanran, Tokyo: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 1975).
  • Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. Revised paperback edition 1991. Translated into Japanese:  Uotaimu Japan, Tokyo: Gogatsu Shobo, 1991).
  • The Jews and the Japanese, (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1992.   (Translated into Japanese: Yudayajin to Nihonjin, Tokyo: Nihon Koho, 1993;. translated into Bulgarian: Evreite i Yapontsite, Sofia: Shalom Publishing Centre, 1996)
  • Collected Writings of Ben-Ami Shillony (Richmond: Japan Library, Curzon Press, 2000).
  • Enigma of the Emperors (Kent: Global Oriental, 2005).
  • ed., The Emperors of Modern Japan (Leiden: Brill, 2008).  

In Japanese:

  • tenno heika no keizaigaku [The Economics of the Emperor] (Tokyo: K?bunsha, 1982).
  • Goyaku sareru Nihon [Mistranslation of Japan] (Tokyo: Kubunsha, 1986).
  • Haha naru tenn? [The Emperor as a Mother Figure] (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2003).

In Hebrew:

  • Hashkafot yapaniot al yehudim ve-yahadut [Japanese Views on Jews and Judaism] (Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shazar Library, 1993, booklet).
  • Yapan hamesoratit: tarbut ve-historia [Traditional Japan: Culture and History] (Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing House, 1995. Revised and expanded edition, 2001).
  • Yapan hamodernit: tarbut ve-historia [Modern Japan: Culture and History] (Tel Aviv: Schocken Publishing House, 1997. Revised and expanded edition, 2002).


Articles and Chapters in Books

In English:

  • The February 26 Affair: Politics of a Military Insurrection , in George M. Wilson, ed., Crisis Politics in Prewar Japan. (Tokyo: Sophia University, 1970), pp. 25-50.
  • Prince Chichibu and the February 26 Rebellion , in Princeton Papers in East Asian Studies, No.1 (August 1972), pp. 123-144.
  • The Showa Restoration , in Studies on Japanese Culture (Tokyo: Japan Pen Club, 1973), vol. 2, pp. 148-162.
  • Myth and Reality in Japan of the 1930s ,  in W.G. Beasley, ed., Modern Japan: Aspects of History, Literature and Society (London: Allen & Unwin, 1975), pp. 81-88.
  • Wartime Japan: A Military Dictatorship? , in Harold Z. Schiffrin, ed., Military and State in Modern Asia. (Jerusalem:  Jerusalem Academic Press, 1976), pp. 61-88.
  • Japanese Intellectuals During The Pacific War , in Gordon Daniels and Peter Lowe, eds., Proceedings of The British Association for Japanese Studies. vol. 2 (1977), pp. 90-99.
  • Conflicting Attitudes Toward the West: The Problem of Cultural Orientation in Wartime Japan , in Ian Nish and Charles Dunn, eds., European Studies on Japan (Kent: Paul Norbury, 1979), pp. 149-156.
  • Patterns of Violence: Political Terrorism in Prewar Japan , Asian and African Studies, vol. 13, No. 3 (November 1979), pp. 242-263.
  • Traditional Limitations on Dictatorships: The Bureaucracy vs. Tojo Hideki , in P.G. O Neil, ed., Tradition and Modern Japan (Kent: Paul Norbury, 1981), pp. 123-129.
  • The Japanese Experience , in Nissan Oren, ed., Termination of Wars (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1982), pp. 91-101.
  • Traditional Constraints on Totalitarianism in Japan , in Totalitarian Democracy and After (Jerusalem:  The Magnes Press, 1984), pp. 158-164.
  • The Princess of the Dragon Palace: A New Shinto Sect is Born , Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer 1984), pp. 177-182.
  • Japanese Students in The Pacific War , in Gordon Danierls, ed., Europe Interprets Japan (Kent: Paul Norbury, 1984), pp. 108-116.
  • Edited with  Introduction, Japan Thirty Years After  The Occupation. A special issue of Asian and African Studies, vol. 118, no.1 (March 1984).
  • The Japanese and The Jews: Two Societies that Surprised The World , in IHJ (International House of Japan) Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 3 (Summer 1985), pp. 1-5. (Reprinted in Speaking of Japan, vol. 6, no. 60, Dec. 1985,  pp. 12-18).
  • Japan and Israel: The Relationship that Withstood Pressures , Middle East Review, vol. 18, no. 2 (Winter 1985/86), pp. 17-24.
  • Japan and Israel: A Special Relationship , in Ronald A. Morse, ed., Japan and The Middle East in Alliance Politics (Washington: The Wilson Center and The University Press of America, 1986). pp. 81-91.
  • Universities and Students in Wartime Japan , Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 45, no. 4 (August 1986), pp. 769-787. 
  • Management by Consensus: The Historical Background , in Tuvia Blumenthal, ed., Japanese Management at Home and Abroad (Beer Sheva: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Press, 1988), pp. 5-14.
  • Victors without Vanquished: A Japanese Model of Conflict Resolution , in S.N. Eisenstadt and Eyal Ben-Ari, eds., Japanese Models of Conflict Resolution (London: Kegan Paul International, 1990), pp. 127-137.
  • The Jewish People and World Peace: The Central Roles of Nation and Peace in The Jewish and Korean Experience , in Tae-Yeung You, ed., Nation State and World Peace (Seoul: The Institute of Korean Cultural Studies, 1990), pp. 63-64.
  • Friend or Foe: The Ambivalent Images of the U.S. and China in Wartime Japan , in  J.White, ed., The Ambivalence of Nationalism (New York: University Press of America, 1990), pp.  187-212.
  • Restoration , Emperor , Diet , Prefecture , or How Japanese Concepts Were Mistranslated into Western Languages , in Adriana Boscaro and others eds., Rethinking Japan (Kent: Japan Library, 1990), vol. 2, pp. 297-304.
  • The Political Tradition of Japan and its Impact on the Development of Japanese Democracy , in S.N. Eisenstadt, ed., Democracy and Modernity (Leiden: C.J. Brill, 1992),  pp. 103-110.
  • The Meiji Restoration: Japan s Attempt to Inherit China , in Ian Neary, ed., War, Revolution and Japan (Kent: Japan Library, 1993), pp. 20-32.
  • The Jews and the Japanese: Cultural Traits and Common Values , JPRI (Japan Policy Research Institute) Occasional Papers, no. 6 (November 1995), pp.1-3.
  • Divinity and Gender: The Riddle of the Japanese Emperors , Nissan Institute Occasional Papers no.30 (Oxford: The Nissan Institute, Oxford, 1999).
  • Emperor and Religion in Twentieth Century Japan , in Janet Hunter, ed.,  Japan: State and People in The Twentieth Century  (London, LSE-STICERD, 1999), pp. 1-16.
  • The Flourishing Demon: Japan in The Role of The Jews? , in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., Demonizing The Other: Antisemitism, Racism, and Xenophobia (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1999), pp. 294-309.
  • Introduction , in Keiichir? Komatsu, Origins of The Pacific War and The Importance of Magic (London: Japan Library, 1999), pp. xvii-xx.
  • “The Beginning of the End? The Problem of Imperial Succession in Modern Japan”, in Bert Edstr?m, ed., Turning Points in Japanese History (Kent:   Japan  Library, 2002),  pp. 232-241.
  • "The Japanese Imperial Institution: Crisis and Continuity," in  Japanese Monarchy: Past and Present. London: STICERD/LSE, 2006, pp. 1-17.
  • "The Memory and Significance of the Russo-Japanese War from a Centennial Perspective", in Rotem Kowner, ed., Rethinking the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5, Vol. 1 Centennial Perspectives (With Rotem Kowner. Folkestone, England: Global  Oriental, 2007), pp. 1-9.
  • "The Jewish Response to the War," in Rotem Kowner, ed., Rethinking the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5, Vol. 1 Centennial Perspectives (Folkestone, England: Global Oriental, 2007), pp. 393-400.
  • "The Soft Power of the Emperors and the Soft Power of Japan", in Prakash Nanda, ed., Rising India: Friends and Foes (New Delhi: Lancer, 2007), pp.76-88.
  • "The Emperor at War: Recent Revisionism in the West and Japan", in Martin Collcutt, Katō Mikio, Ronald P. Toby, eds., Japan abd Its Worlds: Marius B. Jansen and the Internationalization of Japanese Studies (Tokyo: I-House Press, 2007), pp. 231-239.
  • "Auschwitz and Hiroshima: What Can the Jews and the Japanese Do for World Peace?" in International House of Japan Bulletin, vol. 27, No. 2 (2007), pp. 1-18.

In Japanese:

  • Nihon no tenno-sei ga ikinobita nazo [The Riddle of The Survival of The Imperial Institution of Japan], in Sekai no naka no nihon [Japan in The World] (Tokyo: Takushoku Daigaku, 1998), vol. 17, pp. 372-387.
  • “Tenno-sei  keizoku no nazo”  [The Riddle of The Continuity of The Imperial Institution], in Katayama Fumihiko, ed., Ima shinto ga hataraku [Shinto is Now Working]  (Tokyo: Shinjimbutsu oraisha, 2001), pp. 16-23.
  • “Yudayajin to nihonjin, bunka to rekishi no hikaku” [The Jews and the Japanese, a Cultural and Historical Comparison], in Miyamoto Hisao & onuki Takashi, eds., Isshinkyo bummei kara no toikake [Queries from Monotheistic Civilizations] (Tokyo: Kodansha, 2003), pp. 156-173.
  • “Gaikoku-jin kara mita shōwa tennō no sensō sekinin” [Emperor Shōwa’s War Responsibility as Seen by a Foreigner], Jiyū, May 2004, pp. 33-38.
  • “Shōwa tennō to sensō wo meguru shomondai – ōbei to nihon ni okeru kinnen no ribijonizumu” [The Shōwa Emperor and the Problems Concerning the War – Recent Revisionism in the West and Japan], in Zenkindai nihon shiryō no kōzō to jōhō shigenka no kenkyu [Research on the Structure and Computerization of Sources for Premodern Japanese History] (Tokyo: The Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo, 2005), pp. 463-468.

In Hebrew:

  • Sin at yisrael lelo yehudim: ha-ideologia ha-antishemit shel yapan bitkufat milchemet ha-olam ha-shniya [Antisemitism without Jews: The Anti-Jewish Ideology of Japan during The  Second World War], Zion, vol. 46, no. 2 (1981), pp. 125-145.
  • Tofa at ha-hagira be-yapan ha-modernit [The Phenomenon of Emigration in Modern Japan], in A. Shinan and S. Ettinger, eds., Hagira ve-hityashvut bi-yisrael uve-amim [Emigration and Settlement in Jewish and General History] (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1982), pp. 335-341.
  • Yapan be-milchemet ha-olam ha-shniya [Japan in the Second World War], in Ma arachot, nos. 300-301 (November-December 1985), pp. 56-61.
  • Kehuna u-melucha be-yapan [Priesthood and Monarchy in Japan], in  I. Gafni and G. Motzkin, eds., Kehuna u-melucha [Priesthood and Monarchy] (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1987), pp. 105-114.
  • Milhemet ha-okiyanus ha-shaket: kishlonot modiiniyim ve-sodiyut she-hizika The Pacific War: Intelligence Failures and Secrecy that Harmed], in Z. Offer and A. Kober, Modiin u-vitahon leumi (Tel Aviv: Ma arahot, 1987), pp. 85-91.
  • Klitat ha-tarbut ha-ma aravit be-yapan: hatma a bli hitbolelut [The Absorption of Western Culture in Japan: Assimilation without Loss of Identity], in Yosef Kaplan and Menahem Stern, eds., Hitbolelut ve-hatma a [Acculturation and Assimilation] (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1989), pp.249-260.
  • Sod ha-tsimtsum shel ha-omanut ha-yapanit [The Secret of Condensation in Japanese Art], in Machshavot, April 1990, pp. 15-19.
  • Tfisat ha-yichud be-yapan: mabat shel hashva a [The Concept of The Unique Nation  in Japan: A Comparative View], in Shmuel Almog and Michael Heyd, eds., Ra ayon ha-bechira be-yisrael uve-amim [Chosen People, Elect Nation and Universal Mission] (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1991), pp. 299-310.
  • Yapan ve-yisrael: yechasim mitmashchim u-mitpatchim [Japan and Israel: Continuing and Developing Ties], in Binyamin Neuberger, ed., Milchamot ve-hesderim [War and Peacemaking] (Tel Aviv: The Open University of Israel, 1992), pp. 441-452.
  • Yapan: yachasei gomlin bein kalkala ve-arachim, lo bein kalkala ve-dat [Japan: Interaction between Economy and Values, not between Economy and Religion],  in Menahem Ben-Sasson, ed., Dat ve-kalkala [Religion and Economy] (Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Centre, 1995), pp.419-429.
  • “Machazorei zman uminyanei shanim be-yapan” [Time Cycles and Era Names in Japan], in Yosef Kaplan, ed., Shalhei meot kitsam shel idanim [Fins de Siècle – End of Ages] (Jerusalem : The Zalman Shazar Centre, 2005), pp.35-46.
  • “Yapan ke-nokem moshia: hamilchama ve-haolam hayehudi” [Japan as the Revengeful Savior: The War and the Jewish World], in Rotem Kowner, ed., Ha-ma’aracha ha-niskachat: milchemet rusia-yapan umorashta [The Forgotten Campaign: The Russo-Japanese War and Its Legacy] (Tel-Aviv: Ma’arachot, 2005), pp. 401-414.
  • "Mehalelim et sin vehorgim et hasinim: yachas hayapanim klapei sin kreka lemilchemet sin-yapan hashniya" [Praising China and killing the Chinese: the attitudes of the Japanese toward China as the background to the Second Sino-Japanese War], in Zmanim, No. 105 (Winter 2009), pp. 42-53.
  • "Min ustriptease beolam ha-elim: sipurim erotiyim min hamitologya hayapanit" [Sex and Striptease in the World of the Gods: Erotic Stories from the Japanese Mythology], in Erotika (Tel-Aviv: Masmerim, 2009), pp. 121-126.


Encyclopedia Entries

  • “February 26th Incident”, “Nisida Mitsugi”, Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (Tokyo and New York: Kodansha, 1983). Reprinted and updated in Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993).
  • “Aizawa Incident”, “Akihito”, “February Twenty-sixth Incident”, “Inoue Nissho”, “Kita Ikki”, “Kokuryukai”, “Nohonshugi”, “Okada Keisuke”, “Uchida Ryohei”, “Yoshihito”, Encyclopedia of Asian History (Edited by Ainslie T. Embree. New York: The Asia Society and Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1988).
  • “Tojo Hideki, General”, The Oxford Companion to the Second World War (Edited by I.C.B. Dear. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

Edited Issues

  • Japan Thirty Years After the Occupation. A special issue of Asian and African Studies, vol. 118, No. 1 (March 1984).


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