On Nov. 3, the Japanese government announced that the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, will be conferred upon MIT Political Scientist Richard J. Samuels, in recognition of his significant contributions to scholarship about Japan and for promoting friendly relations between Japan and the United States.
Samuels is currently conducting research in Japan and will receive the decoration from Prime Minister Noda today, and be presented to the Emperor of Japan at the Imperial Palace.
Samuels, the Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the MIT Center for International Studies, is the founding director of the MIT Japan Program, which he created in 1981. The MIT Japan Program has contributed significantly to promoting the understanding of Japanese culture, economy and industry.
Samuels is an expert in Japanese politics and East Asian security affairs. Through his research activities and through teaching the next generations of researchers, he has promoted a better understanding of Japan in the United States. His book, The Business of the Japanese State — Energy Markets in Comparative and Historical Perspective, received the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize in 1988. Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan won the John Whitney Hall Book Award of the Association of Asian Studies and the Hiromi Arisawa Prize of the Association of American University Presses in 1996. Machiavelli’s Children: Leaders and their Legacies in Italy and Japan received the the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies in 2003 and the Jervis-Schroeder Prize for International and Historical Studies from the American Political Science Association in 2004. He is one of only three scholars (Japanese or foreign) to have produced more than one scholarly monograph recognized by the Nippon Foundation as one of the top “one hundred books for understanding contemporary Japan.”
Samuels most recent book Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia, was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in international affairs.
From 2001-2007, Samuels was chairman of the U.S. panel of the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON). In this capacity, he exercised leadership in promoting various activities of the conference by utilizing his profound experience and knowledge as a Japan scholar. CULCON is a bi-national advisory panel that serves to elevate and strengthen the vital cultural and educational foundations of the U.S.-Japan relationship, and to strengthen connections between U.S. and Japan leaders in many different fields.
As chairman of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) from 2001-2008, Samuels contributed to the furthering of mutual understanding and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan. JUSFC is an independent federal agency that offers grant programs to institutions in order to support the training of Americans to help them better meet the challenges and opportunities in the U.S.-Japan relationship.