The Emperors of Modern Japan


The Japanese emperors, a peculiar and unique phenomenon in modern times, are the subject of this important handbook edited by Ben-Ami Shillony. An international team of leading scholars looks at these emperors - Meiji (Mutsuhito), Taishō (Yoshihito), Shōwa (Hirohito), and the present emperor Akihito – both as personalities, and as a constantly developing institution. It becomes clear that both the personalities, and the periods in which they reign(ed) have shaped Japanese monarchy, and our image of it.

The essays thoroughly deal with topics such as the ideology behind the institution, the roles of the emperors and their wives, their visual representation, their links to Christianity, the antagonism they called forth in right-wing circles, Hirohito’s much-debated war responsibility, and the controversy over amending the succession rules.
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Biographical Note

Ben-Ami Shillony, Ph.D. (Princeton, 1971), is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star. His books include Revolt in Japan (1973), Politics and Culture in Wartime Japan (1981), and Enigma of the Emperors (2005).

Review Quotes

"...this volume is a valuable and thought-provoking collection of essays (...) a valuable addition to the literature about the Japanese monarchical system which, despite its lack of real power, remains deeply rooted in Japanese traditions, even if it seems decreasingly relevant to the new generations of the twenty-fi rst century."
Sir Hugh Cortazzi, Journal of Japanese Studies 37:1 (2011)

Table of contents

Introduction - Ben-Ami Shillony

1. The Strange Survival and Its Modern Significance - Imatani Akira
2. Revering the Emperor and Bushidō - Christopher Goto-Jones
3. State Shinto and Emperor Veneration - Shimazono Susumu
4. Ise and the Modern Emperors - Rosemarie Bernard
5. The Emperor and the Left in Interwar Japan -
Rikki Kersten
6. Conservative Dissatisfaction with the Modern Emperors - Ben-Ami Shillony
7. Emperors and Christianity - Ben-Ami Shillony
8. The Unreciprocated Gaze: Emperors and Photography - Julia Adeney Thomas


9. The ‘Great Emperor’ Meiji - Hara Takeshi
10. Taishō: An Enigmatic Emperor and his Influential Wife - Hara Takeshi
11. Empress Nagako and the Family State - Sally A. Hastings
12. Axes to Grind: The Hirohito War Guilt Controversy in Japan - Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi
13. The Emperor in the Constitutional Debate - Sigal Ben-Rafael Galanti
14. Akihito and the Problem of Succession - Takahashi Hiroshi

Chronology of the Japanese Emperors since the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Recommended Books in English


All those interested in Japan, modern history, World War II, political science, Asian religions.


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