Prof. Kishimoto Mio is a historian specializing in the socio-economic history of China in the Ming-Qing Period. The discipline of 'Eastern History' in Japan has a proud record of research achievements. Embodying the core traditions of this discipline, Prof. Kishimoto has inherited its insistence on evidence-based precision and by combining a penetrating analysis of the inner workings of Chinese society with a global perspective, she has consistently produced a series of innovative studies which raise fresh questions. Her personal integrity and her illuminating academic output have made her a role model for historians in Japan and abroad, a beacon for the profession.
Prof. Kishimoto was born in 1952 in Tokyo. After graduating from the Department of Oriental History, Humanities Faculty, University of Tokyo in 1975, she continued studying at its Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology for her MA and Ph.D. Subsequently she began her career in teaching and research at the University of Tokyo, and then Ochanomizu University.
Prof. Kishimoto's academic career began with research into the history of prices in Qing dynasty China. From the start, she revealed a distinctive approach, one which sought to understand the inner workings of society by asking the question, "why did people act in the way they did?", while at the same time, maintaining a global viewpoint, with particular attention to foreign trade and the impact of the influx of silver, and its monetization, on prices. Her work in this field bore fruit in an important book, Prices and Economic Fluctuation in Qing Dynasty China (1997). But her intellectual curiosity carried her beyond economic history. Her second book, Transition from Ming to Qing and Gangnam Society (1999), focuses on the 'late Ming and early Qing' era (later 16th - early 17th century) when the trade boom triggered by the silver influx from the Americas and Japan caused drastic social changes, resulting in the collapse of the traditional order. The book throws light on such social-historical phenomena as social structures civil disorder and social thought, and explains how people lived through a period of anxiety and chaos.
One question which Prof. Kishimoto has consistently asked in her work concerns how 'order' could be established in societies consisting of imperfect human beings. Her work is innovative in that she applied this historical insight beyond Chinese history, into the broader context of "early modern East Asian" studies. In early 17th century China, the Manchu Qing dynasty began and after many vicissitudes a certain social stability was achieved, while late 16th century Japan (the Warring States or "Shoku-Ho" [Oda/Toyotomi] period) experienced chaos and subsequently moved to a stable period in the early 17th century (the Tokugawa era). She argues that not only in China but also more widely across East Asia, including Japan and Korea, similar historical rhythms can be identified.
Prof. Kishimoto's academic work has been highly praised by her international peers in Chinese history. Through her many publications as author, co-author and editor, she has had a great influence on Japanese historical academia. Her energetic work continues, as seen in her recent publication of a three-volume compilation of her past academic papers on the Ming and Qing eras, and also of a monograph which distills her views, Late Ming and Early Qing and Early-Modern East Asia (2021). Furthermore her involvement in compiling and writing school textbooks, and her contributions to the next generation in historical studies, are highly valued. At a time like the present, when international relations in East Asia are passing through a difficult phase, Prof. Kishimoto Mio, who has been observing the shape of human life in Chinese society from a long-term perspective, with an eye both to 'internal' and 'external' features, is indeed very worthy recipient of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Prize.