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About Us

The Historical Society of Japan (Shigakukai), founded in November 1889, is the oldest and largest scholarly organization for historical science in Japan. From the time of its founding the Society has continued to be active as an association spanning the fields of Japanese, Western and Asian history and open to anyone interested in the discipline of historical science. The Society was formed into an incorporated foundation in 1929, and in April 2014 took a new step forward as a public interest incorporated foundation.

It was in December 1889 that the Society published the first issue of its monthly journal Shigakukai-Zasshi (later renamed Shigaku-Zasshi) with the aim to publish the latest research of the highest academic standards. Now in its 127th year of publication, each volume consists of eleven regular issues, featuring peer-reviewed articles, research notes, book reviews, brief notices and listings of recent publications. The May issue, entitled “Retrospect and Prospect,” is a comprehensive review of the research findings and issues raised within the field of historical science in Japan over the previous year.

The other main activity of the Society is its annual research conference held each Autumn, a venue where Society members are given opportunities to introduce their latest research findings in sessions and symposia devoted both to historical science in general and topics of special interest current in the field today.

In order to mark the 125th anniversary of the Society in 2014, three consecutive symposia were held before gatherings in Osaka, Fukushima and Kyushu.

By improving and expanding its monthly journal and annual research conference, the Society is dedicated to playing its role as a public interest foundation by contributing to the further development of historical science through both innovative approaches and hard work.

This website has been opened in the hope of keeping our followers abreast of the latest news about the Society in as proactive and prompt a manner possible.

History

The Historical Society of Japan was established in November 1889 at the request of Ludwig Riess, a German-born historian who was recruited as a foreign advisor by the Meiji government and taught at the Imperial University (present day University of Tokyo). Stressing that the development of historical science rests on organizing an active association of historians with an organ to publish their research findings, Riess, with the support of his students, founded the Society and published the monthly journal Shigakukai-Zasshi (later renamed Shigaku-Zasshi), which since then has continued to be released, with the exception of a brief hiatus during the Asia-Pacific War.

It was under the wartime regime that the Society became the captive of a narrative dominated by an ultra-nationalist view of history, which after the War led to a backlash resulting in a drastic decline in enrollment from over 1450 members to less than 400.

It was a committee formed by a group of younger postwar historians that assumed the duties of the Society in an attempt to revive the ideals first instilled by Prof. Riess and reorganize the Society into a nationally recognized academic institution devoted to covering every aspect of historical science in Japan.

Today the Society has grown into a public interest foundation with an enrollment of around 2400 members.