The Minister of Education, Yoav Galant, announced on February 18, 2021, that the winner of the 2021 Israel Prize for scientific research of the Far East is Prof. Ben-Ami Shilony.
Prof. Shilony is a researcher and lecturer in Japanese history and culture in the Department of Asian Studies at Hebrew University. In addition, he is a member of the Israeli National Academy of Sciences and honourary president of the Israeli Association for Japanese Studies.
In its explanatory memorandum, the committee stated that: “The Israel Prize in scientific research of the Far East is awarded to Professor Ben-Ami Shilony of the Department of Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his unique contribution to the establishment and development of Japanese studies in Israel. Prof. Shiloni has strived over the years to raise awareness of Japan and the Far East. He has cultivated generations of students, many of whom have joined academia, the public sector and the private sector in Israel and around the world.”
The committee further noted that “his many publications and contributions to the study of modern Japanese history, and in particular his research on culture and politics in Japan before and during World War II, the Imperial Institution of Japan, and cultural comparison between Japanese and Jews, are considered groundbreaking in their field.”
In addition, the committee emphasized that “in 2000, the Emperor of Japan awarded him the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star (Kun-nitō Zuihōshō). In 2010, he won an award from the Japan Foundation for the Promotion of Japanese Culture in the World. He was received by the emperor and the empress in their palace in Tokyo. ”
Prof. Shilony was born in 1937. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Hebrew University and a doctorate from Princeton University, has taught at the Hebrew University since 1971 and has twice won the Michael Milken Prize for excellence in teaching. He has been a visiting lecturer and research fellow at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Colorado, Tokyo and Berkeley. He has written books in Hebrew, English and Japanese. His books in Hebrew are: “Traditional Japan: Culture and History”, “Modern Japan: Culture and History” and “Japan at a Personal Perspective” (all published by Schocken). The subjects of his research are 19th and 20th century Japan, the Jews and the Japanese, and the Japanese Empire. In addition, Prof. Shilony serves as a commentator on many media channels on Japan and Korea.
The Dean of the Faculty of Humanities of the Hebrew University, Prof. Michael Siegel, congratulated Prof. Ben-Ami Shilony on receiving the Israel Prize and stated: “Prof. Ben-Ami Shilony is one of the world’s leading researchers in modern history and culture. His studies in Japan thrive today in the State of Israel in general and the Hebrew University in particular. In addition to his impressive academic achievements, he worked to establish friendly relations between Israel and Japan.”