Professor Ian Nish, who died at the age of 96, was one of the world’s foremost scholars of modern Japan’s foreign relations, and in particular of the period of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in the early 20th century.
Lecturer in international history at the London School of Economics from 1963 and professor from 1980 until his official retirement in 1991, Nish was a prolific author and an exemplary teacher and researcher. His distinction was recognized when he was invited in 1995 to be the British organizer of the Anglo-Japanese History Project, one of a series of bilateral studies initiated by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama – whose speech of August 15, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the surrender, apologized for the first time for the atrocities committed in the name of Imperial Japan during World War II.
Supervised by Nish and his friend Professor Chihiro Hosoya of the University of Japan at Niigata, the project developed through lectures and workshops until the publication of The History of Anglo-Japanese Relations 1600-2000, in five volumes and in both languages. It was a huge undertaking, covering political, diplomatic, economic, cultural and strategic interactions between the two countries.
Ian Hill Nish was born in Edinburgh on June 3, 1926, the son of David Nish and his wife Marion, née Hill. He was educated at George Watson’s College and it was there that he was first drawn to the idea of studying Japanese, although he was too young to join a wartime research program. recruits for Oriental languages.