Award Citation

Professor Ishii Yoneo is a pioneer of Southeast Asian studies in Japan and an international scholar of Thai studies.

Born in Tokyo, Professor Ishii went to Thailand to be enrolled at Chulalongkorn University. After serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was invited to join the Center for Southeast Asian Studeis, Kyoto University in 1965. Professor Ishii contributed to the enhancement of Southeast Asian studies there until he moved to the Institute of Asian Cultures at Sophia University, Tokyo in 1990. Since then, Professor Ishii has further expanded his teaching activities and academic pursuits at home and abroad. In September this year, he will chair the 13th Congress of the International Association of Historians of Asia meeting in Tokyo as the president. Professor Ishii displayed a linguistic talent at a very young age and wanted to become a linguist. He started studying the Thai language as recommended by his teacher. However, he began to take more interest in studies on Thailand and Southeast Asia and devoted himself to research in those fields. In his twenties, Professor Ishii spent more than six years in Thailand and acquired a command of Thai so good that even a native speaker would be surprised. At the same time, he became attached to the Thai people and their life style, society and culture.

Professor Ishii also entered priesthood, and wrote a book titled "Sangha, State and Society: Thai Buddhism in History", based on his close examination of written materials of Thai Buddhism. The book was evaluated highly as an epoch making achievement in religious and social studies on the relationships between successive kings and Buddhism in Thailand. The book was translated into English and Malay and is still referred to as the standard book on Thai Buddhism throughout the world. Professor Ishii took further interest in the research of ancient codes and comparative studies on the history of law. His work titled "The Computer Concordance to the Law of The Three Seals", (5volumes) received high acclaim from Thai academic circles as a detailed work making full use of a computer. Besides these books, he has vigorously produced written works on the history of Southeast Asia and the historical relationship between Thailand and Japan. All these works are backed by his deep, historical insight.

In addition to being a superb researcher, Professor Ishii has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of international scientific studies and training young researchers in Southeast Asian studies. Numerous international projects implemented under Professor Ishii's leadership have produced excellent results. At the same time, young and talented researchers have benefited from his teaching. Professor Ishii's profound knowledge and superior language skill along with his modest personality have won him much respect among academic circles in Asia and the West. He has helped to link Southeast Asian studies in Japan with the rest of the world.

Professor Ishii's excellent achievements in scientific studies have made a notable contribution to the enhancement of Southeast Asian studies in Japan, thus he is a truly worthy recipient of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes' Domestic Academic Prize.